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 nice stack go off with Cam and Funchess, and Golden Tate and Jonathan Stewart also had pretty nice days. The Eagles defense was just a huge disappointment… not much else to say, onto week 12.
Ben Roethlisberger/Martavis Bryant
It seems strange to target the Seahawks defense but that game versus the Cardinals at home was the final straw for me. This isn’t the Hawks defense of old and I don’t think they’ll be able to stand up to the pressure the high flying Pitt offense is going to apply this weekend. While Antonio Brown might be kept semi-quiet by Richard Sherman’s presence, Martavis Bryant has a matchup with perennial burn victim Cary Williams who’s been giving up a lot of big games recently. Pro Football Focus has the Bryant-Williams matchup as one of the most advantageous for a WR on the entire slate and I fully expect Big Ben to take advantage. Look for Ben to pick up where Carson Palmer left off and post a big day here too. This stack will be lower owned than it should be for the simple reason that too many players still consider Seattle a complete no-fly zone. Take advantage in gpps this weekend.
Philip Rivers/Dontrelle Inman (or Ladarius Green if no Gates)
After two slow games not many people are talking about Phillip Rivers at the moment. After an amazing mid-season run most people have moved on, seemingly happy to forget that the Chargers are still the Chargers and cannot run the ball. Meanwhile their opponents this weekend have one of the weakest secondaries in the entire league and a great run D. I think this matchup (Chargers-Jags) screams big day for Rivers and I also think the WR with the best matchup is Dontrelle Inman. Inman’s an athletic, tall target (6’3) who’s basically min-priced everywhere and also played the most snaps of any Chargers WR in week 11 (over 95%). I love the potential here and think you’re extremely likely to see Rivers get back on track this week with a big game. I love this stack as it allows you to fit multiple studs on your team due to Inman’s price.
Marcus Mariota is now up to 5 carries in each of his last two games, and had a beautiful 20 yard designed run play that he scored on versus Jax in week 11. The Raiders have given up some big games to QBs all year and carry one of the weakest secondaries in the league. While most everyone will be after Delanie Walker since he leads the Titans in receptions I’d consider going contrarian if you use Mariota and use Kendall Wight in a stack with him instead. Wright’s been injured but is practicing in full this week and on track to play in this game. Wright/Mariota had a nice connection starting in the preseason and I think this matchup is easily one where the pair could get back on track. They’ve got great upside in a soft matchup.
Travis Benjamin had a nice week versus a pretty weak Pittsburgh secondary two weeks ago. Now coming off of a bye, he gets the even weaker Ravens secondary and his pass happy QB back as well. Benjamin has been the Browns best WR all year and the way they use him downfield and on quick outs means he’s pretty much a lock for at least 5 catches and 60-70 yards in this matchup. I think the Browns are in a great spot to jump all over the Ravens this week and would look for a big play or two from their best receiver. This is a great week to target the Browns passing game in general.
Not many people are going to be playing Sammy Watkins after his dud last week on MNF. Watkins looked like he was getting track recently but he’s been shut down in two straight tough matchups. The KC secondary has improved of late but it’s still exploitable and still giving up a lot of yards and catches the WRs. Watkins will absolutely be needed in this game by Buffalo as the KC run defense has been superb most of the year. I love Watkins as a completely overlooked gpp play and think there’s monster potential lurking.
**I basically just left my write up from last week on Fleener here. I like the spot for Fleener as much as I did last week and the Bucs just gave up 7 rec. and 80 yards to Brent Celek in less than a full game. The Tampa 2 defense employed by Love Smith is known for giving up big games to TE’s.
In one of Matt Hasselbeck’s two starts this year Coby Fleener had himself a monster game posting 9 catches for 83 yards and a TD versus the Jags. The Bucs are one of the weaker teams in the league versus the TE position and could easily allow a big day here to Fleener who should be a bigger part of the game plan considering the matchup and the fact Hasselbeck is starting. If you need a cheap TE using Fleener is a definitely a good choice in gpps, he could be one of the shock plays of week 12.
The other Colt I’d consider this weekend is Ahmad Bradshaw. I know it appears as if Frank Gore is going to play but he really looked banged up at the end of last week’s game and I doubt he’s anywhere near 100%. I could see Gore being the backup this week and only playing if Bradshaw needs a breather or gets hurt. Bradshaw looks fully up to speed after a few games now and I love the way he fits in this offense. A good receiver and more explosive runner, don’t be shocked if he takes advantage of the Bucs who are weak covering the TE and RB in the pass game.
This one is almost too easy but I’ll take it anyways. The Ravens are starting Matt Schaub at QB this weekend. Schaub was actually a pretty effective QB at one point in his career but in his last year at Houston, with his arm strength seemingly gone, he was simply a pick 6 machine. The Browns have admittedly not been great on D all year but they’ve played hard under Mike Pettine and facing such a weak offense at home I think they likely have the edge this week. Expect the Browns to jump all over the Schaub-led Ravens and post a big game on MNF. They’re definitely my cheap D play of the week for gpp’s. Consider playing them with my other Brown player in this article, Travis Benjamin, who returns kicks for the correlation “double dip” play.