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 some really big plays last week. Sammy Watkins was a massive gpp play that was very under owned and Philip Rivers/Inman had a big week too and ended up being one of the best points-per dollar stacks on the week. Let’s uncover more tournament treasure for week 13…
A lot of people still seem like they’re fearful of the Rams defense and I think that might be a mistake. The Rams are now losers of three straight and looked lifeless last weekend against Cincy. With the playoffs out of reach I’m not expecting much resistance from them here and think that the way Carson Palmer is playing makes this a spot where a big fantasy day could arise. Palmer has excelled against strong competition this year and should be motivated to avenge the Cards early season loss to this now listless Rams team. I love pairing Palmer with John Brown who burned the Rams earlier in the year, when they were playing well, for 7 rec. and 70+ yards. Brown has looked healthier the past couple of weeks after having some hamstring issues and will be exceeding low owned in this matchup. The 4.3 speedster is a big play waiting to happen and I think he and Palmer can excel in this matchup.
Derek Carr posted his fifth 300+ yard fantasy game of the year last week and has looked good almost every time he’s taken the field in 2015. This week the Raiders get KC who they are chasing for a wild card spot, at home in Oakland. The Chiefs have been playing great lately too but have really struggled covering the wide receiver this year and just let Sammy Watkins go nuts versus them last week. Amari Cooper is at least as good as Sammy Watkins and should see lots of targets in this game as the Raiders will have trouble running against the stout KC front. If you’re looking for a contrarian QB this week Carr is definitely it. He should be well under 5% owned on all sites and I love pairing him with his most athletic WR in this matchup.
I’m kind of surprised more people are not talking about Jeremy Hill. Hill is coming off of his best game in a while here and now gets the Cleveland defense who is bad against the run and, just from a visual standpoint, one of the worst tackling units in the NFL. The Bengals are huge favorites in this game and while Hill is obviously going to split work with Gio Bernard the Bengals would surely love to get Hill’s confidence up with a big game here, and have never wavered in their commitment to him this season (even when he’s sucked). I love pairing Hill with the Bengals defense as the more points they rack up the more work Hill is going to see. This is a correlation play that I really think makes a ton of sense this weekend and love the fact most players will be too chicken to roster Hill. He’s worth the risk this weekend against the very exploitable Browns D.
I don’t know why TY Hilton doesn’t get more respect from fantasy players. He may not be the most consistent player but puts up some monster games. This weekend TY is going to be involved in a game against Pittsburgh that screams offense. Pitt plays at a high/quick pace and has been rolling on offense lately. I expect Big Ben to pick apart the Colts secondary. This should mean big things for TY who has clearly been backup Matt Hasselbecks favorite target since he took over as starter. Hilton is getting a PITT secondary this weekend who can’t cover WRs (see Doug Baldwin) and his speed is going to get him open all day in this matchup. I love Hilton this week and think he could be a huge difference maker in tournaments. Indianapolis might throw the ball 60 times in this game.
McDonald is a player I’ve followed since he was drafted. While it’s dangerous to compare any player to Rob Gronkowski, McDonald is one that definitely fits the Gronk mold. While not super tall (6’4) McDonald is big (250lbs), strong (31 bench press reps at the combine) and fast (ran a 4.6 40m). McDonald may not have caught many passes in his first few years in the NFL but he played a ton of slot receiver in college and has quickly become one of Blaine Gabbert’s favorite targets. You can get McDonald at near min price this week and with the 49ers big underdogs versus Chicago you can expect a lot of targets too. While this might seem like wishful thinking do not be shocked if McDonald is one the top 3 TEs this week in fantasy, he has the talent and targets now to do it.
The Texans have really mixed it up a bit on offense lately and one of the main beneficiaries of this change in style has been Cecil Shorts. Shorts was actually a QB in high school and has taken some snaps in the wildcat for Houston the past few weeks and even threw a passing TD in week 11. The Texans are also employing Shorts in the run game more too and Shorts scored on a play designed explicitly for him last week. With the Bills really struggling to limit secondary receivers don’t be shocked if Shorts puts up a big day in this game. He’s risky but has the talent to bust a big run and his recent usage means he’s going to get lots of chances to do so.
Everyone is going to be targeting Alshon Jeffery this weekend against the admittedly poor San Fran secondary but the truth is the 49ers have been especially terrible in defending against RBs when away from home. If Thomas Rawls can gain over 200 all purpose yards than Matt Forte, even if he loses some work to Jeremy Langford, can surely have himself a monster game versus San Fran too. I expect the Bears to give Forte more work this week after essentially splitting carries between their two backs last week. I like the Bears to trounce San Fran and so a bigger workload should be in store for Forte just on that basis alone as lots of running near the end will be likely. He’s a great tournament swerve play if you’re fading Alshon this week.
Miami has been one of the hardest teams to predict for me but there’s a ton of things lining up in their favour this weekend. The Dolphins went through some more coaching changes this week and they reacted very positively the last time that happened. Even better, they’ll be at home this weekend against the Baltimore Ravens who get a short week to prepare after a Monday Night game. The final icing on the cake is of course that they get to face Matt Schaub who apparently has some kind of agreement with the league to throw a pick 6 in every game he plays. The Dolphins are super cheap and will be ignored by everyone. Make them a tournament target this weekend.