Fantasy Football Mailbag: Tuesday 7/12/16

Kenny Stills is mired in a murky situation on the Miami Dolphins' depth chart. What should we expect from him in 2016?

Fantasy football research never stops, and offseason news can really complicate things, especially when coaches talk up second- and third-string players. That's why we're starting up a fantasy football mailbag.

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Now, let's answer some questions.

Kenny Stills has always been a favorite of our metrics here at numberFire, leading the league in Reception Net Expected Points (NEP) per target -- our metric used to track the efficiency of teams and players -- back in his final season with the New Orleans Saints. The poor guy just has a frightening situation on an offense like the Miami Dolphins'.

An offense only has so many targets to go around, and when discussing the Dolphins, you know a good chunk of those are headed Jarvis Landry's way. Landry had a 28.6% market share of all targets last year, and he saw double-digit targets in 11 of 16 games. That's the first obstacle.

The second thing Stills will have to overcome is the potential breakout of DeVante Parker. Parker emerged last year after Rishard Matthews went down to injury, and he performed well when given the opportunity. From Week 12 on, Parker controlled an 18.7% market share in the Dolphins' offense. Stills had a 10-target game in Week 12, but he still only churned out a 12.0% market share from then on, and he saw more than four targets in only one other game the rest of the way. If Parker were to see any bump in volume, that would further cap Stills' potential.

While the departures of Matthews, Greg Jennings, and Lamar Miller will open up targets, the drafting of Leonte Carroo in the third round helps fill that gap. Carroo hauled in 29 touchdowns in his 30 games at Rutgers, and he compares favorably to the top receivers in the draft based on collegiate market-share numbers, according to Rotoworld's Kevin Cole. The Dolphins likely wouldn't have spent as much draft capital at the position if they believed Stills was on the verge of a breakout.

Our projections currently have Stills slotted for 33 receptions for 442 yards and 2.49 touchdowns. There's a chance he could out-perform those if he were to see a good number of targets, but it's hard to see that happening in an offense this crowded. His floor is even lower than that with the possibility Carroo surpasses him on the depth chart, so the fantasy outlook here -- for the time being -- really isn't too rosy.

Let's break this puppy into two parts. Thanks to some fancy-pants tools, finding low-owned players isn't as difficult as it may have been in the past, so we'll start there before discussing which low-owned guys may have value.

Assuming that you're looking for ownerships for the Sunday-to-Monday slates, utilizing ownership in Thursday contests can be a helpful gauge. There will clearly be some fluctuations as news comes in and once the Thursday pool is taken out of the equation, but most low-owned guys in those contests won't be chalk when Sunday rolls around.

There are a bunch of different ways to do this, but the easiest I've found is using sites like DFS Report. They generally have ownership percentages up for the Thursday FanDuel contests on Friday morning, giving you plenty of time to research before lineups lock again on Sunday.

If you're trying to predict what ownership will look like for a Thursday contest, the best way to do so is by simply reading as much as you can. The more recommendations you read, the more you'll be able to tell which players will be most popular the following week. If every outlet you read is talking up Todd Gurley, it would seem a bit unlikely you'll get him at low ownership.

Finding guys who will do well at low ownership isn't quite as simple, but it is certainly possible. As always, Vegas lines are a useful crutch in that pursuit.

The value in targeting games with high over/unders for DFS is pretty obvious. More points mean more touchdowns, and more touchdowns mean more fluffiness for your bankroll. This is something that most DFS players have noticed, meaning the game with the highest over/under of the week is likely to come with some hefty ownership. The games directly beneath that, though, may not.

If I'm playing cash games, most of my exposure is going to be in games right at the top of the over/under chain. But if I'm trying to snag some lower ownership in a tournament, my main point of focus will be in the games that are just a smidge lower. Sure, they'll have lower point expectancy, but they have nearly equal chances of blowing up, and the assets involved will likely not be as highly owned. This would change if one of said players were a popular recommendation in the more mainstream sites for the week, but that's something you'll likely know in advance by conducting research and studying Thursday's ownership percentages.

Other strategies here would be targeting players against whom the populous may have a particular bias. Did Adrian Peterson post a dud the previous week? People may be hesitant to invest in him the next week, even if his matchup is a quality one. If you have reasons to believe that he won't duplicate what happened the week before to cause said biases, then it's wise to invest when ownership may be lower than it truly should be.

This is obviously an inexact science. However, finding low-owned players isn't simply a guessing game. Using tools such as Thursday ownership percentages and over/unders can help you identify when an under-the-radar stud is on the verge of a breakout, and the upside in doing so is pretty tasty.

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