4 NFL FanDuel Tournament Pivots for Week 1
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 1 of the 2019 NFL season.
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
FanDuel Price: $7,400
Week 1 of the 2019 NFL season is here, and we have a loaded slate with plenty to break down, so let's jump in.
With a full slate of games, there are plenty of quarterbacks to consider, but there are a few who should be the most popular. With an over/under sitting at 51.5 points, Jameis Winston is set up to be one of the most popular options on the slate since he is up against the San Francisco 49ers, who are the third-worst defense in the league, per our schedule-adjusted numbers. It simply makes sense for Winston, with their retooled offense this season, to be popular in a game which should see plenty of scoring. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have an implied team total set at 26.25, which is the fifth-best on the slate, and that is where the ownership should follow.
Pivoting off of high-ownership players can be a game-changer in tournaments, which is why you should consider Kirk Cousins this week. He is at home against the Atlanta Falcons in a game where the over/under is set at 47.5, with the Minnesota Vikings having an implied team total set at 25.75. As you can see, the over/under and team total are just slightly lower compared to the Buccaneers' game. With the Buccaneers having little to no rushing game, Winston will carry most of the offense, which can't be said for Cousins.
The Vikings have a solid balance with the running and passing game, which should be shown this week, as we have Dalvin Cook projected to be the fourth-highest scoring running back. But even with that balance, we still have Cousins projected to be the 11th-highest scoring quarterback this week, just 1.4 points lower than Winston. This shouldn't be a surprise, since the Falcons were bad against the pass a year ago and project to be much of the same in 2019 (sixth-worst by our models).
While the matchup might not draw the attention of the DFS community, Cousins is in a great spot versus a weak pass defense.
Mark Ingram, Baltimore Ravens
FanDuel Price: $6,600
Paying up for running back is the name of the game in DFS, which can make the lower-priced backs an interesting pool to pick from.
Among the mid-tier options -- $7,000 and lower -- at running back this week, we have Chris Carson, who averaged 17.6 carries per game last season and comes in as a -9.5 home favorite against the Cincinnati Bengals. Next, we have Austin Ekeler, who should be seeing solid work with Melvin Gordon holding out. After that, we have Tevin Coleman, who is playing in a very high-scoring game against Tampa Bay, which is mentioned above. Those are all very solid options, and they have factors going for them and stand to post solid fantasy points.
Right in the mix of those players, we find Mark Ingram, who is the clear number-one back for the Baltimore Ravens and projected to be the 15th-highest-scoring running back on the week. Why would this make Ingram a tournament pivot? Well, Carson -- who is also $6,600 -- would be a priority since he is a large home favorite, Ekeler has a higher reception projection along with being a home favorite, and Coleman is playing in the game with highest over/under on the slate. Each player has strong factors going for them and two of them -- Ekeler and Coleman -- are cheaper compared to Ingram.
But, Ingram is also a favorite (-6.5) -- albeit on the road -- facing the Miami Dolphins, who our models project to be the league's worst run D. He has the best matchup of any the running backs listed. While each running back has positive factors going for them, Ingram could fly under-the-radar despite having the best matchup, especially if the masses flock to Carson at the same price.
Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions
FanDuel Price: $6,900
The Cardinals will be without Patrick Peterson and Robert Alford, two of their top defensive backs, which should put the Lions and their receivers in a good spot. Over/unders in the NFL have a large impact on ownership -- larger than other DFS sports -- and with this game sitting tied for the fifth-highest, it doesn't necessarily move the needle a bunch. Yes, we will see Kyler Murray make his NFL debut, but we are worried about the Lions' ownership here, specifically Kenny Golladay. We have him projected for 11.4 fantasy points this week, making him the 12th-highest receiver on the slate.
Golladay led the Lions last season in air yards, market share of air yards, tied for first in touchdowns, and was second in target share, according to Airyards.com. He was tied with Golden Tate in touchdowns, and Tate was ahead of him in target share but is no longer on the Lions. There is plenty of opportunity to grab within the Lions' offense for this clash with the Cardinals, who should be one of the lesser pass defenses in the league while their top two corners are out.
Evan Engram, New York Giants
FanDuel Price: $6,400
Tight end is an interesting position, as always, since you have the three elite options and then everyone else.
The three elite options, of course, being Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Zach Ertz. Those three players generally see a good amount of ownership, and as we move down the list, things can get interesting. At $6,500, we have O.J. Howard, who is playing in a game with a very high over/under. At $6,100 we have Hunter Henry, who is holding an implied team total set at 25.50 -- the eighth-highest on the slate. After that, there are a few cheaper options such as Mark Andrews and Greg Olsen, who are decent plays this week.
Lost in the mix is Evan Engram of the New York Giants, who come in with an unwelcoming 19.25 implied team total, the sixth-lowest on the slate. Lower implied totals can cause DFS players to turn and run, simply for the fact that there won't be enough scoring for players to benefit. You also have to consider that Saquon Barkley will take a large portion of the offensive touches, cutting Engram's usage even further.
Regardless of that, Engram might be the Giants' best receiver this season, and it has been reported they have a "massive role" planned for him.
With the Giants coming in as seven-point underdogs, they will likely need to throw the ball in order to keep the game close. This should benefit Engram since the Dallas Cowboys allowed the ninth-most touchdowns to tight ends last season along with the 11th-most FanDuel points per game to the position. The game script should force the Giants to pass, and Engram will be a benefactor of that.