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: Not a bad week at all, we whiffed on Aaron Dobson and the Falcons D but all our stack calls were solid with Smith/Maclin being a pretty big hit. This week there’s some interesting players out there with nice ceilings that are potentially being ignored so let’s take a look and find some more diamonds in the rough…
Colin Kaepernick/Anquan Boldin
Colin Kaepernick was awful last week against a tough Arizona pass defense but returns home to the friendly confines of Levi stadium for week 4 where he’ll face a Packer’s squad who just allowed Alex Smith to rack up over 30 yards rushing and nearly 300 yards passing. With the Niners now in must win mode and currently projected as 8-9 point underdogs, expect Kaepernick to sell out in this game and do everything he can to rebuild his reputation with 49er fans and players. While Kaepernick is always risky I think this is a definite spot for him to approach or break 100 yards rushing. With TE Vernon Davis now out for week 4 I also think pairing Kaepernick with trusty WR Anquan Boldin makes some sense too. Don’t be shocked if Boldin sees a lot of passes late against some soft zone and racks up a big PPR scoring day.
Ginn may not be your favorite player but he currently leads all Panther WRs in targets for the year. The best part about playing Ginn this week though is that since he returns punts he’s also a positive correlation play with the Carolina defense. Bucs QB Jameis Winston has been throwing ill-advised passes into coverage all year and with stud cornerback Josh Norman patrolling the secondary for the Panthers a pick 6 here isn’t just likely it’s actually expected for me. I love this stack play because either or both of this options could pay off in big ways and vault you up a tournament leader board faster than a Winston pass into triple coverage.
Here’s a stack I never thought I’d be including in this article. WR Brandin Cooks has been legitimately bad to start the year but he’s also been a slight victim of circumstance (ie. Drew Brees getting hurt). While I don’t love the start for Cooks I do think this a good spot for him to get back on track. With Brees getting a week off and now looking healthy and the Saints at home against a very depleted Cowboys team I could see the Saints offense putting up decent numbers week 4. Cooks may have disappointed you the first three weeks but he’s still an amazing talent capable of a monster game. Pairing him and Brees and hoping for a Superdome explosion Sunday night isn’t a bad idea at all for tournaments as it should be one of the lowest QB/WR combos of the week.
No catches in the last two weeks and zero fantasy points in that same span… this of course makes Roddy White a perfect target for this column! In all seriousness White may not have caught a pass since Nixon was president but he’s still been playing more snaps than any other ATL receiver. I absolutely cannot see Atlanta letting their veteran wide-out who has been the heart of their team for years go a third game without a catch. Even more, with the Falcons at home and Julio Jones slightly banged up (he’s playing but missed some practice time) I could actually see White being a big part of the game plan this week. I love this spot for a Roddy White revival and think he could be a big play in a high over under game.
The Browns are taking on San Diego who are currently one of the worst rush defenses in the league. While Crowell has been splitting carries with Duke Johnson he has actually been taking all of the red zone snaps. The Browns are underdogs which doesn’t work in Crowell’s favour but with the Chargers passing defense being so good the Browns should attack via the run in this game. Crowell makes for a great tournament play because if the Browns do have early success Crowell could be in for a ton of carries and also have a shot at multiple TDs. With a lot of question marks surrounding the RB position in week 4 consider Crowell as a back with a low floor but higher than expected upside for tournaments.
Here’s something you probably didn’t know, last week WR Malcom Floyd was on the field for 87% of San Diego’s snaps and was also second on the team in targets. With TE Ladarius Green questionable and likely to miss week 4 Floyd could once again see a lot of work. The Cleveland secondary hasn’t been good thus far in 2015 and quite frankly neither has the San Diego run game. With two exploitable defenses there’s a chance this game turns into a bit of a back and forth and if that’s the case Floyd could easily be the beneficiary. Floyd primarily works the outside and is basically Rivers best red zone and down field target with Green out. At near min-price and essentially a forgotten man to most fantasy players (seriously how many of you thought he had retired) Floyd could end up being a big play week 4.
This is easily my biggest Hail Mary play of the week. The Vikings WR core is pretty banged up. Charles Johnson is officially out and it also looks like Jarius Wright will miss as well. That means that Cordarrelle Patterson will be getting the start in this game at WR. You may have forgotten about Patterson but he is still one of the best runners after the catch and still capable of doing something crazy like running for a 70 yard TD. A lot of what Patterson does will depend on if the Vikings are smart enough to get him some touches on screens and end-arounds (a big if) but with them being so thin at WR they may not have a choice. I hate the matchup but love the talent, the price (bare minimum everywhere) and the potential.
Kansas City Chiefs
This is the perfect example of a boom or bust tournament pick. The Bengals (who the Chiefs play) are a talented team but are still capable of laying a huge egg every once in a while. KC should be good and prepared for this game after losing two straight and will also be getting cornerback Sean Smith back who just happened to be one of the best coverage corners in 2014 (per Pro Football Focus). The Chiefs have a monster D-Line that are capable of both racking up sacks and creating turnovers. I think the Chiefs are going to win this game and I also think their defense is going to be the main reason. Look for them to be the surprise play of week 4 and put up a big number for fantasy.