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…
Carson Palmer/Larry Fitzgerald
There’s not been many weeks this year where Carson Palmer has gone under the radar, but this week is going to be one of them. Palmer looks set to be well under 5% owned this week in a game which has a point total near 50. While Green Bay’s defense has been solid most of the year Palmer has put up 9 games with 300 passing yards or more this season. While some may fear David Johnson stealing points from Palmer on the ground he’s just as much a weapon in the pass game and could help add to Palmer’s total this week. With Green Bay possibly missing top corner Sam Shields and Larry Fitzgerald running many TE-like routes against a team who struggles to cover the middle of the field I really like pairing Palmer with Fitzgerald this week. This pair have put up some massive games earlier in the year and I think this game could mark a revival, fantasy wise, for the duo. I love the fact they’re going completely under the radar and the potential for a big fantasy day for them in this game
Tom Brady/James White/Rob Gronkowski
The other top QB who should go well under owned this week is Tom Brady. Brady’s definitely been more subdued lately fantasy wise lately, only breaking the 300-yard mark once in his last 5 games, but there’s some promise for a big game here for him too. The Jets may seem like a scary matchup for fantasy but he truth is they’re anything but. The last time these two teams met Brady threw the ball well over 50 times and recorded one of his biggest games of the year. The Jets pass defense has been crumbling late in the year and with the emergence of RB James White I think there’s a huge reason to think the passing back gets used a ton in this game. With Darrelle Revis likely taking out Julian Edelman/Danny Amendola, I also expect TE Rob Gronkowski to see a few more targets than usual too. While I hate the high price on Gronk, his ownership is projecting at a very low level this week and tournament wise, he’s always in play to be the highest scoring TE of the week. This Pats trio is going to be pretty low owned and could bring in a massive score. I love them as a swerve off the popular Steelers this week.
I’m not a huge fan of the Miami Dolphins as a team but I have to admit they have played some very solid games at home this season. This week the Fins take on the Colts who truly have been awful at defending the WR position all year. With Jarvis Landry playing the slot so much he’s almost guaranteed to see little of Vontae Davis and will be in a prime position to exploit the Colts weaker CBs in this game. While I don’t necessarily trust the Miami defense (who have been bad themselves in many areas) the Colts offense has really struggled lately and with the semi-injured Matt Hasselbeck starting, on the road, this is a spot where Miami’s defense could really tee off and get some sacks/turnovers. With Landry returning punts and kickoffs, using these two together makes a ton of sense and provides some great correlation week 16. Expect both these plays to be under 10% owned.
This one is fairly simply. Alshon Jeffery is now doubtful for play on Sunday and Martellus Bennett is out for the year. Zach Miller is arguably the best receiving target the Bears have left, and while that may sound precarious, Miller has the athleticism and pass catching ability to put up a big game here. Tampa has been weak at stopping the pass for the most part all season and just allowed a decent game by the Rams TE Jared Cook last week. I think there’s some pretty massive upside here with Miller and as a near min price play he’s projected to go very overlooked this weekend. Consider using him at TE and flex this week.
The Patriots and Jets game has a close point spread but I still expect the Patriots to be up big at some point this week. With the Jets likely needing to score a lot of points this weekend expect a lot more work for passing back Bilal Powell who has been seeing a big uptick in work lately for the Jets. Powell has been targeted heavily the past 3-4 weeks in the pass game and with the Jets facing one of the strongest run defenses in the league this week I expect those targets will remain constant in this game. Powel is not a lock to find the end zone but on full-point ppr sites I think he has massive potential as 7-10 catches isn’t out of the question in a game where the Jets could be forced to throw the ball well over 40 times.
Mike Evans has been extremely hot and cold all season but in general his big games have come when Vincent Jackson has been out of the lineup. Evans saw over 15 targets last week and with Jackson out it’s quite likely he again gets at least 10. The Bears have a few solid corners but Evans is going to have a massive height and weight advantage over all of them, including Tracy Porter who looks set to cover him this week. The ability is there for Evans to post a monster/massive game in this spot and I think he’s going to be well under 10% owned. He’s a great tournament target.
I think this is a great spot for a big game from Stefon Diggs. The Vikings may not even need to win this game (if the Packers lose their game this week this game for the Vikings becomes meaningless) which would almost certainly mean the workload for Adrian Peterson would be hugely decreased. With the Vikings facing the Giants allowing Teddy Bridgewater to air things out a little more in this game seems like a good strategy regardless of what this game means fantasy wise. If that happens Diggs should have a great shot at a big game given the way the Giants have been letting opposing teams WRs (see Ted Ginn last week) go nuts against them. I love him as a low owned tournament play this week.
There’s a few cheaper defenses I like this week (already mentioned Miami) but the Lions are truly in a great spot for a big game. Detroit’s coming off a solid road win and have simply played better as a team at home all year. The 49ers on the other hand have really struggled to put up points period recently, averaging 15.2 points as a team over their last 5 games. The Lions are by no means a lock (they’re still the Lions) but this matchup favours them a lot. The 49ers have almost no threat at RB meaning they’ll be forcing Blaine Gabbert to win the game for them. The Lions pass rush have been inconsistent this year but could be in a spot to cause some real havoc here, especially with the freakish Ziggy Ansah going against a 49er O-line who’ve given up the second most sacks per game this season. I love this spot for Detroit and think they’re not only a great value play but one of the top upside plays of the week at D. I’d make them a big tournament target this weekend.