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: Our big hit was Dion Lewis. The Buffalo game played exactly as I thought and the Pats threw on almost every down making Lewis a massive play. Unfortunately we whiffed on almost everything else but that is to be expected… these are high variance plays that can have big payoffs when they hit as we saw with Lewis last week. Let’s try and hit a couple more week 3.
Alex Smith/Jeremy Maclin
If you follow the PlayPicks you’ll already know I think very highly of the KC offense and Alex Smith. Last week everyone saw Smith get whipped by what is likely the best defense in the NFL. Newsflash… the Broncos are going to make every QB they face this season look bad. The Packers defense is decent but ultimately can be had for big games. Everyone thinks Jeremy Maclin has started slow but he leads the team in targets and red zone looks, and has basically been a victim of game flow and bad matchups for fantasy. I think GB/KC is a shootout waiting to happen as the KC secondary has gotten torched so far this year and Green Bay’s D can be very complacent at times when they have a lead. I love this overlooked stack and the fact it’s very affordable across the industry week 3.
Ryan Mallet/DeAndre Hopkins
I think this is legitimately one of the highest upside stacks of the entire week from a points/dollar perspective and should also be very low owned. DeAndre Hopkins got diagnosed with a concussion Monday but practiced in full Friday and is probable to play. The injury concern is going to drive down ownership on Hopkins who has a cake matchup against Tampa Bay… if Kendall Wright can go for 100+ yards and a TD vs the Bucs the fantasy upside for Nuk is almost endless. As for Mallet he’s the real bargain in this relationship. Mallet is basically the lowest priced QB across the industry this week and offers a ton of savings. You don’t have to like Mallet as a real-life Quarterback to recognize that in a must win game, at home, against a bad defense he carries fantasy upside. The cherry on top of all this is that the Texans run game is pitiful with Arian Foster out and they’ve responded by throwing it on over 70% of their plays thus far in 2015, a trend I hope will continue this week. I’ve had this pair targeted for a big game at some point since the beginning of the year and think there’s a good chance this is where it happens.
Tyler Lockett/Seattle Defense
Many people might have already forgotten but I’m here to remind you… rookie Tyler Lockett is really good at returning kicks/punts and is still getting time with Seattle’s offense—Lockett was in on 53% of snaps in week 2. The Hawks are 14 point faves against the Bears and will be probably be ahead big at some point, what better time to start giving Lockett even more reps and targets on offense? Also consider that with Jimmy Clausen at QB the Bears might set a record for punts in this game giving Lockett numerous chances to get a return TD. If he scores a special teams TD, the Seattle defense might approach 30 points on its own this week. I love this pairing for gpps and think it’s a good way to get a leg up on those who might roster Seattle, but forget about Lockett.
Many people may have missed the fact that Aaron Dobson had 7 catches/80+ yards last week. Not only did he have a decent game but he also played on 70% of all the snaps. Dobson has been getting glowing reviews in the media from Bill Belichick of late and that alone should make you confident in this pick (as that is generally not an easy task). Last season Brandon LaFell had a pretty big year working as the third receiver in this offense and with Dobson essentially taking over that role for the time being there’s a lot of upside with him suddenly. Dobson is min-priced on DraftKings and at or near it on most other sites. I think he’s possibly the best bargain of the week on DK and would really recommend him there as he could pay off his meager salary through only 3-4 catches. The Pats have been throwing a ton so far in 2015 and will probably continue to do so in week 3, use him as a massive salary saver where possible.
Walker missed week 2 with a sprained wrist but is healthy now and looks ready to go for week 3. One of the main reasons I like Walker so much is the fact that his quarterback, rookie Marcus Mariota, has now directed 31% of all his passes in 2015 to the TE position. Walker is a great athlete and fully capable of scoring a long TD which gives him more upside than many of the other lower-priced TEs out there. There is literally no buzz around Walker right now and with the Titans facing Andrew Luck and the Colts there’s a strong chance that the Titans will be forced to air it out at some point, a great situation to be in for Walker owners since the Colts secondary is extremely thin at the moment. I love Delanie as a gpp play at TE this week and won’t be shocked if he ends up being a top three producer at his position.
Taliaferro played on exactly 41% of the snaps week 2 and was also the RB of choice in the 4th quarter as Baltimore tried to seal the game. Baltimore is now in a must win situation against the Bengals week 3 and if RB Justin Forsett starts out slowly I think you might see a ton of Taliaferro in this game. Even if he only sees a split in snaps with Forsett expect the second year RB to get goal line work as the power back. At basically min price throughout the industry Taliaferro only really needs a few catches and carries to semi-pay off his meager salary, but with the way things have been trending and his usage last game, his upside is definitely much higher. If he scores a TD and gets the bulk of the work (a possibility) Taliferro could be a massive gpp play and one that will allow you so much flexibility in other areas of your lineup.
With everyone and their mother likely playing the Seattle defense this week, why not consider another solid defense who is getting an equally bad offense to face? As of writing this someone just tweeted out the starting lineup for the Cowboys offense… it goes something like this: Weeden, Randle, Devin Street, Terrence Williams, Cole Beasley and a seriously hobbled Jason Witten. The Falcons have looked like a much improved unit in 2015 under Dan Quinn through two games and will be going up against what is basically a preseason lineup in week 3. If the Falcons are able to jump ahead on offense quickly this game could turn into a nightmare for the Cowboys really quick. Expect multiple turnovers and for Atlanta to have a real shot at posting a shutout in this game and for multiple pick 6’s. I could see things getting ugly, and a ton of fantasy points being scored by their D.