Week 5 NFL FanDuel Tournament Pivots

You can't be all chalk in tournaments. Let's take a look at some players to use instead of the popular weekly picks.

In daily fantasy football tournaments, you don't want to use the same guys everyone else is playing. You need to be different. You need to be contrarian.

Throwing chalk plays into a tournament lineup can sometimes work, but it's also important to know which players to pivot to, or use instead of the popular, chalky option. Let's take a look at the Week 5 slate with a list of pivot options.


Chalk: Tom Brady $8,800 at Dallas Cowboys

What do you get when you take a quarterback that has scored the highest points per game on FanDuel this season, put him on the road, and give his team has the highest implied point total, per Vegas, of the week? 

You have the chalkiest quarterback plays of the week.

I rarely pay up for a quarterback in tournaments. Rarely are they valued in such a way that would warrant playing them. Could we see Brady throw another three or four touchdowns this weekend? Sure. But Week 3 also showed us what happens when the Patriots get up big in games -- they turn the ball over to LeGarrette Blount.

The Patriots are 10-point favorites this week, and I fully expect them to roll over a Dallas Cowboys team that has lost all sense of their identity over the last few weeks.

Pivot: Philip Rivers $7,500 vs Pittsburgh Steelers

While Rivers isn't the name of an Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady, he's quietly become the eighth overall quarterback in all fantasy while leading his team to the most passing yards in the league. And, according to our schedule-adjusted Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, the Chargers have the ninth best passing game in the NFL.

With Malcom Floyd listed as questionable with a concussion and Steve Johnson sidelined with a hamstring injury, there's a chance Rivers' ownership is down a bit.

While the Steelers are in the middle of the pack in terms of fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, it's a bit skewed due to great games against Nick Foles and the St. Louis Rams and Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens. Don’t be fooled, this is the same defense that allowed Tom Brady to throw for four touchdowns and Colin Kaepernick to throw for 335 yards. According to our numbers, the Steelers' pass defense is a bottom half one in the league when you adjust for strength of opponent. 

Oh, and let’s not forget that one of Rivers favorite targets in Antonio Gates returns to the team this week. A Rivers/Gates stack could provide a great Monday night sweat. 

Running Back

Chalk: Justin Forsett $7,200 vs Cleveland Browns

I’ll admit… I’m a bit of a scorned lover when it comes to Justin Forsett. He was a staple in my cash games in Weeks 2 and 3 when he looked like he would have a great game script and should receive a lot of the work. In Week 4, when I pivoted off of him, it bit me. 

Well not again, Mr. Forsett.

The Ravens are touchdown favorites at home this week. They will also be without Steve Smith (back) and Breshad Perriman (knee). With Crockett Gillmore still not practicing and Mike Campanaro landing on the injured reserve, there’s not a whole lot left for Joe Flacco to turn to in the passing game. This should mean another heavy workload for Forsett, which should have a steady stream of owners looking to roster him against the worst rush defense in the NFL, per NEP.

Pivot: Dion Lewis $6,900 at Dallas Cowboys

Believe it or not, Lewis is actually in a very familiar situation to Forsett. Both teams are heavily favored against some of the worse rush defenses in the NFL. The Cowboys are currently allowing the third most fantasy points to opposing running backs, and have given up 244 rushing yards and 4 rushing touchdowns over the past two weeks. Passing down backs have especially flourished, as the Cowboys have allowed 19-211-1 on 22 targets over the last two weeks.

And don’t tell me that Bill Belichick’s ears didn’t perk up when he heard about the way Devonta Freeman ran wildly all over the Cowboys two weeks ago. You see, Dion Lewis and Devonta Freeman are actually pretty similar backs. Both are 5’8” and are within 11 pounds of each other. Both are also great pass-catchers that are heavily involved in the red zone. Don’t get me wrong, if this game gets too out of hand, it will become another Blount game, so there's the risk of that. But if it gets to that point, Lewis has already hit value.

Wide Receiver

Chalk: Julio Jones $9,200 vs Washington Redskins

After last week’s dreadful 4-reception, 38-yard performance, I do expect Jones' ownership levels to dip ever so slightly, but he should still be one of the highest owned wide receivers of the weekend. With an excellent matchup against a Washington Redskins team that has allowed an average of 38.6 FanDuel fantasy points to opposing wideouts over the last two weeks, you can expect Jones will perform well. Passing on the Redskins is how you beat them.

Pivot: Odell Beckham $9,000 vs San Francisco 49ers

After ending 2014 with nine straight games with 90 or more receiving yards, Beckham Jr. has topped 90 yards only once this season. In fact, through four games, he already has the same number of sub-90 yard receiving games as he did all of last season. 

This weekend, though, Odell faces off against the San Francisco 49ers. And he should be lined up against 49ers cornerback Kenneth Acker. This season, Acker has allowed the second most passing yards (303) along with a 72% catch rate and 16.8 yards per reception. As you can see, Ackers is allowing the big play often, and at a pretty good success rate. Last weekend, only three Giants wide receivers saw more than one snap. Of the three, all scored a receiving touchdown, sans Beckham. The Giants are at home and favored by more than a touchdown -- expect OBJ to put on a show at MetLife Stadium.

Tight End

Chalk: Jason Witten $5,700 vs New England Patriots

Check down city. This is what the Dallas Cowboys offense has become. Of the 38 quarterbacks that have played at least 25% of their team’s snaps, Brandon Weeden’s 7.5 average depth of target (aDOT) is tied for 27th.

Since Weeden has taken over as the starting quarterback, Jason Witten has seen 34.2% of the Cowboys targets and has hauled in 40% of Dallas’ receptions. Game script is in Witten’s favor, as the Cowboys are projected to play catch up against the Patriots.

Pivot: Antonio Gates $5,500 vs Pittsburgh Steelers

No one likes to target a player coming back from a suspension. The uncertainty of the player’s role drives people away. 

Not me. Not with Antonio Gates.

Gates has been a TE1 in fantasy every season since his rookie year (2003). While we aren't discussing his season-long value in this article, I found it important to note that he has been consistently producing for a very long time.

Gates has always been Philip Rivers’ safety blanket, or the guy he looks for in the red zone. This week provides a great opportunity to own him at a very low ownership rate while getting great upside if both Stevie Johnson and Malcom Floyd sit out due to their injuries. Let’s throw in a 29th ranked defense versus opposing tight ends in terms of fantasy points against this season, and you've got yourself a strong play.