Week 9 DraftKings Tournament Pivots

Thinking about using Jeremy Langford on DraftKings this week? In tournaments, it may be better to go with Darren McFadden.

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 9 slate with a list of pivot options.


Chalk: Tom Brady $8,500 vs Washington Redskins

This is a little bit of the "chicken before the egg" scenario. The Patriots have one of the highest implied team point totals of the week according to Vegas at 33.5 points. They also come in as two touchdown favorites. Now, if the Patriots are able to get out to such a big lead, we should see them move to a ground and pound mentality with LeGarrette Blount. However, if they do get up to such a large lead, they have to get there somehow (presumably by two or three passing touchdowns by their team captain). Brady will clearly have a nice game, but the blowout potential and extremely high salary (most expensive quarterback) significantly limits his upside.

Pivot: Eli Manning $6,900 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Do I dare go back to the Eli well after last week? I do! I do! And this well is full of enough Eli Kool-Aid to go around for everyone!

When targeting tournament quarterbacks, I’m looking for a low- to mid-priced quarterback that has three or more touchdown upside. Well, after last week, Manning has shown us that he sure does have the touchdown upside. And, much like last week, he gets another very favorable matchup.

The Buccaneers rank seventh in pass defense, according to Net Expected Points (NEP). They have allowed at least 300 passing yards and multiple passing touchdowns in each of the last three games. Each of the Buccaneers five cornerbacks have allowed an NFL passer rating over 100 on balls thrown towards them. Rinse. Wash. Repeat. Manning may have a bump in ownership due to recency bias, but should still be under 8% owned.

Running Back

Chalk: Jeremy Langford $4,000 at San Diego Chargers

With Matt Forte lost for the season, the Bears will hand the reigns over to the rookie from Michigan State. We haven’t seen much of Langford, but we all know what a matchup against the Chargers brings for running backs, as they rank near the bottom against the run according to our numbers. With murmurs coming out of the Bears camp that they see Langford as a “feature back” and that he is all but guaranteed work, it’ll be hard to stay away from him at his minuscule $4,000 salary.

Pivot: Darren McFadden $4,300 vs the Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles have a great run defense ranking inside our top 10, according to NEP. They have also only allowed one rushing touchdown all season to opposing running backs. So I’ll admit, this isn't a great matchup for McFadden. However, sometimes, for tournament purposes, you need to look beyond the matchup.

Since their bye week, the Cowboys offense has run, literally, through McFadden, who has accumulated 26 or more touches in each game. Dez Bryant returned last week which, despite Matt Cassel at quarterback, should help keep defenses honest. Game script is not in their favor, but we should expect to see McFadden involved regardless of game script because of his involvement in the passing game. While Langford is “all but guaranteed” 20 touches, it’s safe to say McFadden is a lock for 20 touches. It’s not often you get 20 touch volume in the $4,000 price range.

Wide Receiver

Chalk: Demaryius Thomas $7,500 at Indianapolis Colts

Demaryius Thomas, if nothing else, has been very consistent this season. Only once has he had under 7 receptions in a game, and only twice has he been under 90 receiving yards. The only thing missing is touchdowns -- he's scored just once this season after having double-digit touchdowns each of the past three seasons. At this point in the season last year, Demaryius had 34 red zone targets. This season… just 5.

While the matchup against the Colts looks favorable – Colts are ranked 27th against the pass, per NEP – Demaryius gets the formidable task of lining up across from Vontae Davis. So far this season, Davis has not allowed a defender to have more than 55 receiving yards in a game.

Pivot: Randall Cobb $6,800 at Carolina Panthers

While the above average daily fantasy player may shy away from Thomas because of the perceived matchup, they may think the same for Randall Cobb being matched up on Josh Norman. They’d be wrong. Norman is ranked the second best cornerback according to Pro Football Focus, but fortunately for Cobb and sharp DFS players, Norman will not be on Cobb. Instead, it will be Bene Benwikere that will be assigned that task. Benwikere is currently ranked 76th out of 113 cornerbacks according to PFF.

Cobb should also be on your radar because of his decreasing salary (not only his lowest of the season, but down $1,200 since the start of the season). Typically, a decreasing salary despite no significant role change makes for excellent value.

Tight End

Chalk: Jordan Reed $4,500 at New England Patriots

When healthy, Jordan Reed is a stud. Fresh off a bye week and 30-point DraftKings performance the week before, I'm sure many casual DFS players took notice of Reed's return.

However, it appears that, while Reed may be a very good tight end, his numbers may be a bit inflated by playing some defenses which are soft against the tight end. Three of the five defenses he has faced rank 19th or lower against the pass, according to NEP, and in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. The Patriots Linebackers have been very good against opposing tight ends allowing the sixth least amount of fantasy points to the position. Specifically, Dont'a Hightower ranks as the top outside linebacker in the NFL in a 4-3 defense, according to Pro Football Focus.

Pivot: Heath Miller $2,700 vs Oakland Raiders

When we all heard Ben Roethlisberger was coming back, we all clamored to Antonio Brown. And while Brown has seen a bump in production with Roethlisberger, it’s Heath Miller we should be paying attention to.

In four games without Roethlisberger, Miller is putting up a very sad 1.25 reception, 13-yard, 0 touchdown line. But, in the four games this season with Roethlisberger, he's putting up a respectable 5.5-reception, 55-yard, 0.25-touchdown line good for an average of 12.5 DraftKings points.

And let’s not overlook the whole “start your tight ends vs the Raiders” thing. While this hasn’t been highlighted as much as it was in the beginning of the season, they have still allowed a touchdown to a tight end in all but one game this season (Broncos). Coming off a 10-reception, 100-yard receiving game in Roethlisberger’s first game back, we should expect much more of the same against the Raiders linebackers that struggle to cover the tight end.