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 nailed a couple really big plays again. Golden Tate was off the charts last week as was Tyler Lockett and Julius Thomas. Brandin Cooks and Charcandrick West didn’t work out but not every play is meant too in this article. Only a couple weeks left so let’s keep digging…
You’re going to be able to get Aaron Rodgers at around 2-3% ownership this week and whenever you can get that kind of ownership on him he has to be considered as a play in DFS. The Raiders played very well last week and I won’t lie in saying their pass rush does scare me a bit, but what scares me more is not having exposure to Rodgers. The Raiders secondary isn’t good outside of David Amerson, who will likely be covering the outside most of this game and thereby avoid Randall Cobb. Cobb will be matched with one of two weak backups (TJ Carrie, DJ Hayden) and after seeing 14 targets last week is in a great spot here to explode. Head Coach Mike McCarthy is now calling the plays and this offense has never really struggled under him as play caller. People are still wary of using GB in DFS since they’ve been pitiful all year on offense and so this you can still get them at virtually no ownership this week, take advantage.
Philip Rivers/Antonio Gates/Malcom Floyd
The game this week most likely mark the last time the Chargers will be playing in San Diego. This might not seem like huge news to the average NFL fan but for players like Philip Rivers who have spent 10+ years playing in the same city this is a big deal. There’s little doubt that Rivers will want nothing else than to go out on top and part of that will mean looking for his number one target early and often in this game. While there’s numerous TE’s I like this week Gates is by far the one I like best as the narrative level is strong enough here to guarantee a few more targets than usual and probably a TD. Pairing Rivers with Gates and the cheap Malcom Floyd (also a life long Charger) seems ideal for tournaments and this stack looks like it will be very under owned given Thurs ownership levels. Look for the Chargers to go out with a bang this weekend.
Whenever a player goes up against the Denver defense you have to downgrade them. However, Antonio Brown is not a normal player. Brown has overcome tough matchups before to post big games, most recently in the first game of the year versus the NE Patriots. The Denver D will be on the road this week and they have given up a couple decent games to the likes of Cleveland and Oakland through the air in road matchups. Brown is coming off a slow game and so this, coupled with this matchup, will ensure very low ownership. With the Denver offense struggling and the Pitt defense riding a strong defensive front and pass rush I could see them giving Brock Osweiler and the pitiful run game of the Broncos all kinds of problems this week. I like this stack as it will be severely under-owned, offers you great correlation due to Brown now returning punts, and is in a good spot to succeed this Sunday.
While Murray’s usage has been quite high all season he has not had any explosion games for fantasy purposes. This week however he’ll get a very streaky Packers defense who will be on the road and is a little banged up. While Murray’s just average for fantasy don’t forget he has elite speed (4.38 40m) and is fully capable of breaking more than one big run against a mediocre run defense. With the Raiders playing well as a team right now don’t be shocked if the they jump out early on Green Bay and Murray sees a big workload in this game as a result. I really like the potential with Murray this week and the fact he’s been getting good usage the past few games, take advantage of his low price tag and ownership.
The Titans defense has been very bad lately, especially in defending against the WR position. In fact the Titans have now given up 2 or more TDs to the WR position in each of their last three games. LaFell has been slow to get going since returning from injury earlier this year and now failed to record a TD or more than 40 receiving yards in three straight games. Still, with the Pats such huge favorites and likely to be up big at some point don’t be shocked if this is the week Brady starts looking to LaFell more to try and build his confidence levels. I like the matchup a lot for LaFell and the fact he might be in line for a few extra opportunities at some point.
With Martellus Bennett out for the year and Alshon Jeffery slightly banged up TE Zach Miller is now in a great spot to see a huge jump in targets and responsibilities. Miller had a nice game last week posting 5-85-TD in his first game as the main catching TE and I’d look for him to build on that performance with another solid week here. Many may not know much about the oft injured TE but he’s very athletic and a great receiver who just hasn’t got an opportunity to show he can produce until now. Look for him to be a focal point of this offense and red zone target once again. He’s my favorite cheap target this week at TE.
As you can tell by now I am expecting the Raiders/Packers game to be somewhat high scoring and possibly a shootout. That means that on top of targeting Aaron Rodgers/Randall Cobb you should probably also be considering some of the Raiders WRs. The Packers will be without top corner Sam Shields and that should benefit both Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Cooper has been dealing with a foot issue the past couple of weeks and while this is a good spot for him to rebound I think Crabtree is ultimately the one who wakes up here with a big game. Crabtree should find some open field this week against a Packer team who has struggled covering TE’s and WR’s over the middle at times. Look for Carr to look his way a ton, especially if things get crazy towards the end of this game.
There’s a couple cheaper defense I like this week (I’ve already mentioned the Steelers) but the Vikings are definitely at the top of my list. After two straight losses the Vikings will be desperate for a win here and will be at home facing a Bears team who have averaged only 18 points on offense in their last three games. Additionally, while the Vikings have been suffering from injuries it does appear as if they are getting a bit healthier this week as it appears they will have two of their safeties back and possibly NT Linval Joseph. The Vikings have a solid secondary and while Alshon Jeffery makes this matchup with Chicago a little less appealing Jeffery is a little banged up himself. The Vikings looked pretty solid last week versus a tough Arizona squad and I think this week they get back on track versus Chicago. Look for them to limit points against and possibly feast on a Jay Cutler turnover or two.