It’s a common refrain in DFS that fading highly owned players in GPPs is a legitimate winning strategy. The concept being that when the “chalk” underperforms, you gain a significant boost in placement since the bulk of the field will have these players in their lineups. While this is absolutely true, many of those playing DFS apply this strategy too much in a vacuum. This can often lead to very suboptimal situations, and many will end up failing to do well in GPPs despite utilizing a completely viable strategy on a conceptual level.
Ownership only matters when a lower or similarly priced player can provide equal or better production than one who will be much higher owned. The simplest application of this is in the forward position: the high-priced striker in a heavily favorable matchup will likely have high ownership. Fading him for a forward on a weaker side with potential to score multiple goals is a great way to get similar production for half the price, and if the high-owned striker significantly underperforms, the combination can shoot you right to the top of a GPP.
Where many go wrong with this GPP strategy is applying it without thought to “value plays” as well. The lower the price of a player, the less likely you will be able to find a similarly priced one who can put up at least the same number of points. A cheap midfielder who has been upgraded to a more prominent role in his team’s favorable matchup will likely have high ownership. However, unlike the previous example, fading this type of player is problematic even if you knew that at least 80 percent of the field will roster him.
Pivoting to a similar priced player with a limited floor or upside, while being low owned in comparison, doesn’t actually give you much, if any, advantage since “underperforming” in that price range is practically non-existent. If the high-owned value play produces three fantasy points versus your low-owned differential producing the same, what did ownership really matter? You didn’t gain anything regardless. On the other side, if the high-owned value play produces 12-15 points and you don’t have him, you practically have no shot at cashing.
Playing contrarian in GPPs and weighing ownership into your lineup construction is a winning strategy, just be wise when doing so. Understand that fading value plays, despite potentially being high owned, typically only has downside and rarely ever much upside.
Onto this week’s question!