Chalk Talk: NFL Player Ownership Report – DraftKings & FanDuel – Week 1 (9/12/21)

Chalk Talk: NFL Player Ownership Report – DraftKings & FanDuel – Week 1 (9/12/21)

Welcome to Chalk Talk – an article dedicated to deep diving the slates projected highest owned players.

In this article, we are going to look at the projected most popular player at each position using Awesemo’s ownership projections and determine if the popular play is considered a hot, cold, or neutral option for this week.

As a note, if I am hot on a player it means I will likely have ownership over the projected amount. Cold means I will have ownership considerably lower than the projected amount, while neutral means I am around the projected amount. It should be noted that ownership projections are still projections and this article is based solely on my personal opinions.

Quarterback Projected Ownership DK Projected Ownership FD
Josh Allen 9.4% 10.5%
Patrick Mahomes 7.7% 12.1%

Verdict: Neutral on both – On this opening season slate we get arguably the two best AFC Quarterbacks as the highest owned on each given site. Josh Allen tops the quarterbacks on DraftKings, while Mahomes comes in at a higher number on FanDuel. It is no coincidence that both of these teams carry two of the top three team totals on the entire slate, with the Chiefs at the top with a 29.75 team total. When a quarterback’s projected ownership comes in only at around 12%, this really is not chalk at all. We can see a very wide spread of ownership at the quarterback position to start the year and some of this comes from salaries being released in the middle of the summer, which created some value elsewhere. That said value trickles down allowing some to roster more expensive quarterbacks. I have no issues with rostering either Allen or Mahomes this weekend, though there really are a wide array of options for us. I am a bit more bullish on Allen, as we get him $700 cheaper on both sites and a little more rushing equity than we get in Mahomes. But again, 7-12% ownership does not at all fall under the “chalk” label for me.

Running Back Projected Ownership DK Projected Ownership FD
Christian McCaffery 20.3% 22%
Dalvin Cook 18.2% 25%

Verdict: Hot on bothIt is pretty hard to ever create a firm argument disputing against rostering Christian McCaffery. Despite an injury-plagued 2020 that saw McCaffery play just three games, he still managed over 24.8 fantasy points in all three of them. If we date back over McCaffery’s last 15-games, he has scored above 22 fantasy points in 14 of them and the one was still a 17 fantasy point game. What this does is establish a floor for a player that simply is not being achieved by anybody else across the position. While McCaffery is $9,500 on DraftKings, if you believe in historical value, then we are actually getting a discount here as CMC has been priced at $10,000 or more for 11 of his last 12 games. It is hard to dispute the matchup here, as CMC gets a friendly home matchup against a Jets team that allowed 400 yards per game last year.

For Cook, we see him as the highest projected ownership on FanDuel at 25%, while he actually comes in third on DraftKings, behind CMC and Alvin Kamara. Cook falls similarly to CMC as if you believe in grabbing slight value, Cook’s price on FanDuel is the cheapest it has been since week 9 of the 2020 season. Cook also gets the benefit of a Bengals team that ranked 29th in the NFL in rushing last season. Cook rushed for 1,557 yards last season and 16 touchdowns while adding 44 receptions and 361 yards. When it comes to “workhorse” backs, McCaffery and Cook are 1-2 in the NFL and it is not surprising to see them both the highest projected owned on this slate. Because I will likely have around 25-30% of each of these guys come Sunday, I fall pretty in line with both of them, if not a little on the hot side.

Wide Receiver Projected Ownership DK Projected Ownership FD
Calvin Ridley 21.4% 19.6%

Verdict: HotWe land on our first player of the slate who is the highest projected owned on both sites, as Calvin Ridley tops both DraftKings and FanDuel. Ridley turned in a phenomenal season last year with 90 receptions for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns – all while being a member of a 4-12 team. There have been a lot of changes in Atlanta, a new coach in Arthur Smith, the departure of Julio Jones, and the addition of WR/TE hybrid Kyle Pitts. Arthur Smith comes to Atlanta as the previous Offensive Coordinator of the Titans, as he was promoted to that position one Matt LaFleur became the Head Coach of the Packers – IE: The Titans Offensive Coordinator position has produced some recent coaching talent. The point here more is, when it comes to an offensive approach from Smith it appears we are in way better hands for this offense than the previous version of Dan Quinn. In 2020, when Julio Jones was not on the field or out for Atlanta, Calvin Ridley averaged two more targets per game with 11.1 compared to 9.1 with Julio on the field. Flip-side to this, Ridley’s touchdown production dipped slightly without Jones on the field, mostly because Ridley was a key focus in the red zone. But, with the addition of Kyle Pitts, the Falcons red zone presence is one that will be hard to focus too much attention on one person. With a friendly home draw against the Eagles in week one, I think Ridley should be somewhere around 25% plus owned based on his ceiling alone.

Tight End Projected Ownership DK Projected Ownership FD
Travis Kelce 15.2% 20%

Verdict: Neutral – The tight end position is one that is tough for me to write about weekly because I think there is definitely a personal preference in paying up vs. paying down at this position. My personal philosphy usually lands me on saving money at this spot and this week is no exception as we have a wide array of options under $5,000 on DraftKings. Kelce being priced at $8,300 certainly makes him not only the highest priced tight end by $2,000, but also tied with Davante Adams for the most expensive receiver in general. But, with all that being said, the Chiefs do have the slates largest team total, in the slates highest projected game total. Kelce averaged 23.7 fantasy points per game last season and their opponent, the Browns, allowed the four most fantasy points to the tight end position in 2020. With there being a strong amount of wide receiver value this week, getting Kelce into your lineups shouldn’t actually be that difficult, so for that reason, I do see myself around the 15-20% range on Kelce as this matchup is a positive one.

Defense Projected Ownership DK Projected Ownership FD
Atlanta Falcons 9.6% 4.5%
Denver Broncos 7.8% 11.1%

Verdict: Hotlanta / Neutral Denver – Atlanta comes in as the cheapest defense on DraftKings at $2,000 which does feel too cheap, even for a “bad” defense. The Falcons are going to give up yards and they are going to give up points, but we are looking at a minimum price defense at home against an Eagles team that besides Jalen Hurts rushing ability, isn’t too fearsome. We are looking for a “bend, not break” performance here and for Hurts to make some mistakes. Over Hurts’ last three starts of 2020, he threw three interceptions and took ten total sacks – he also fumbled five times.

I have no issues with the Denver defense on this slate, I am just likely to always spread my defense pretty wide. Denver comes in around the eighth most expensive defense but does get on paper a positive matchup against a Giants team that still has a lot to prove. Add in the fact that Saquon Barkley likely isn’t 100% yet – same with Kenny Golladay, and the Broncos defense feels at worst, pretty safe. I prefer to target Denver when they are at home, but the Giants aren’t an offense to be fearful of.

About James Smizek

James is a Daily Fantasy Sports Veteran dating all the way back to his days of writing content on for contest tickets. James specializes in College Football - qualifying for the CFB World Championship in 2018, though you can find his content for NFL, NBA, MLB, and NASCAR on FantasyCruncher. James also picked up some new tricks during the Covid/sports shutdown, carving out a niche in League of Legends, Rocket League, and Call of Duty eSports. A winner of multiple large field GPP's, James hopes his knowledge can help you take down the next one. James currently resides in Wisconsin and is a huge Wisconsin sports fan. If you have any questions you can reach out to him @iKezims on Twitter.

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