This is a weekly series where I break down the best contrarian plays for the upcoming NFL week. I’m going to be focusing on high upside, low owned plays and pairings that could really pay off big for you in a large tournament. Major outside the box thinking, cheap pricing and upside is the goal…
Last Week: We had a couple major hits… Tavon/Rams D really paid off as Austin scored on offense and in the return game, plus the Rams defense was solid against the Hawks. The Tennessee defense was also gold against the awful Jameis Winston and TE Jared Cook more than paid off his min-priced salary. These are high variance plays and they won’t always pay off as well as last week but hopefully we’ll hit on enough to make a difference in your gpp lineups.
WR JJ Nelson/Arizona Defense
This is definitely your “Hail Mary” stack of the week. JJ Nelson is an absolute speed demon (4.28 sec) who was targeted 4 times week one… three of which were long throws down the field. Eventually, one of these passes is going to connect and Nelson will pay off his currently min-priced salary. The other benefit you get with Nelson is that he returns kicks, and any return TD he might get will be positively correlated (counted twice) with the Zona D if you play them together. The Arizona Cardinals have a great run defense as evidence last week when they held Mark Ingram to under 30 yards. The Bears will not be able to run Matt Forte against Zona like they did against the Packers and this will force Jay Cutler to have to air things out which means turnovers will happen. You’ll need lots to go right for this play to really pay off but if it does, it will be a huge boost to your lineups.
QB Aaron Rodgers/WR Davante Adams
It may look strange to see Rodgers in a contrarian article but remember he’s playing the Seahawks, who have held him to under 200 yards passing the past two times they’ve played. The Hawks defense was the best in limiting fantasy points to opposing QBs in 2014 and almost everyone in fantasy will be avoiding Rodgers in this matchup. Hold the phone on that thought for a second though. The Hawks are missing all-pro Kam Chancellor and it really hurt them last week as Nick Foles and the Rams passed for 297 yards and a TD. If Foles can produce those kinds of numbers, what can an Angry Aaron Rodgers do? The Packers have probably been thinking about this game every day since blowing the conference finals to Seattle last January. WR Davante Adams may have let you down week 1 but he will be free to roam this week with Chancellor out and Richard Sherman covering Cobb. I love this likely low-owned stack for tournaments and think the Packers are going to take it to the Seahawks early and often week 2.
QB Nick Foles/TE Jared Cook
The Rams paid off for us big time week 1 so it shouldn’t shock you that they are back week 2. TE Jared Cook semi-shredded an elite Seahawks secondary for 85 yards last week and also narrowly missed out on a long TD. This week he gets a much weaker Redskins secondary who got beat often by Jordan Cameron, a similarly athletic TE. The general public may not think much of QB Nick Foles but he is a cold blooded downfield passer who isn’t afraid to take shots. This pairing offers you all kinds of flexibility for your rosters in week 2 as both men are near min priced on the major sites. Neither of these two need huge games to pay off their respective salaries but there is potential for a big game from both. This is a very sneaky, value-oriented, high-upside stack I love for tournaments.
Charles Johnson (WR Vikings)
Ok so Johnson sucked week 1. So did the whole Vikings team. This week however the Vikings will be at home and Johnson will be likely be seeing a ton of possibly the worst cover man in the league (Rashean Mathis) who Keenan Allen just decimated for 15 catches. Teddy Bridgewater may not be flashy but he is accurate and he should be able to get Johnson the ball lots to take advantage of this matchup. Even if Johnson doesn’t get in the end zone he could compile 6-7 catches and pay off through PPR points. I’d give him another shot this week as the Vikings offense should rebound against a bad Detroit secondary.
Phillip Dorsett (WR Colts)
TY Hilton looks almost certain to miss the MNF game this week and all the talk I’ve heard is what that means for Donte Moncrief. The real benefactor from Hilton being out on the Colts however might be Phillip Dorsett. Dorsett is a for all intents and purposes almost an exact clone of Hilton as both men have well under 4.4 speed and are incredibly shifty and agile in the return game. What was really telling for me, and makes me like Dorsett a ton, is the fact that as soon as Hilton left the game last week it was Dorsett who came in and immediately got targeted twice by Andrew Luck. Even if Moncrief “starts” Dorsett is going to see the field a lot and will also likely avoid being shadowed by Darrelle Revis. Dorsett is a gamble, since it’s still possible TY plays Monday, but he’s worth the roll of a dice for me as the payoff could be massive.
Dion Lewis (RB Patriots)
Everyone will likely forget about the great game Lewis had week 1 for fantasy. Yes LeGarrette Blount is back and yes Lewis will be facing the very tough Bills D. However when the Pats have gone against great run defenses the past few years they’ve really tended to limit Blount’s carries and give more work to the passing backs (Shane Vereen caught a gazillion passes in the super bowl, remember?). Lewis looked great week 1 both running and catching and I think the size of his role in this game is going to shock people. I wouldn’t be surprised if he caught upwards of 5+ passes and possibly even found the end zone, he’s got lots of appeal for me as a contrarian super low-owned pick at RB.
I wanted to put the Saints here since they get to face Jameis Winston but that seemed too easy. Instead I’ll take a defense from the highest over/under game of the week. The Eagles secondary may have been roasted by Julio Jones last week but they now head home and get a Dez Bryant-less Cowboy squad. The Cowboys will likely try to run the ball against the Eagles but I’m not sure if that will be allowed to happen. The Eagles run D is very stout and they should be good and mad after a bitter week 1 loss. The Eagles had some massive games in 2014 when at home including a 30+ point day against Cam Newton and a banged up Carolina team. I could see this getting ugly (for Dallas) and the Eagles start to rack up the sacks and turnovers in a hurry.