Contrarian plays for FanDuel
You always hear that you have to be contrarian to win tournaments. What’s it mean? And how do you do it? Well, it means that you have to use players that aren’t obvious. You avoid using all of the players with the most talent in the best matchups and look for guys that are going to be owned by a smaller percentage of the field. That way, if they do well, not everyone benefits and you move past the field toward the top of the leaderboard.
There is a fine line between contrarian and stupid. We want good plays that are under the radar, exploitable situations that not everyone believes are exploitable. A couple of guidelines that I adhere to, and I’m a conservative player for the most part, are as follows: 1) talent trumps matchup and 2) go against the narratives. Who’s too old, who’s in a ‘revenge’ game, who sucks in his (three) primetime games? Use the old player (especially early in the season), fade the revenge game, and ignore small samples.
Blake Bortles $7700: In what is likely to be a high scoring game with the division rival Colts, Bortles and the Jaguars stand to move up a game with a win. Neither team is known for its defense, as the Colts allow the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing QBs and the Jaguars are the worst rated defense overall by PFF. With Julius Thomas contributing, Allen Robinson having a career year, and Allen Hurns likely to be healthier than he has been, Bortles has an elite receiving corps at his disposal. No one likes Bortles based on his early career stats, but this is a quarterback that has been allowed to grow with the system and has matured pretty nicely. He has five 300+ yard games in his last eight with an improved 27:13 TD:INT ratio this season. That TD count is third best in the NFL.
Alex Smith $6800: Smith is one of the lowest owned quarterbacks week in and week out, but he’s also one of the most consistent. He’s a safe alternative option for cash games in Week 14, as he simply doesn’t throw enough to have a tournament-high ceiling. But he does have back-to-back 2 TD games and faces the struggling Chargers at home this weekend. The place to use Smith is any lineup where you want to pay for security and/or upside at the other positions without sacrificing your QB floor too much.
Todd Gurley $7900: Are people over Gurley? He came out so hot when he finally got the keys to the offense but has cooled off over several tough matchups in Weeks 11-13 where he’s seen his carries and production drop significantly. Detroit has looked great against running backs since their bye week, allowing very few fantasy points--including only one of their 12 TDs allowed to RBs--to Green Bay twice, Oakland, and Philadelphia, admittedly all teams lacking a singularly dominant running back like Gurley. Nonetheless, those numbers will scare some people off of Gurley, perhaps rightfully so. We’ll find out who the fraud is this week—Lions or Gurley, making Gurley a terrific risk/reward play in tournaments if you believe in his talent.
T.J. Yeldon $6400: I feel like we’ve seen flashes of the Yeldon breakout potential, with two 100+ rushing yard weeks but it’s his involvement in the passing game over the last five weeks that has me really interested. As noted above, the passing offense in Jacksonville is rounding into shape pretty nicely, leaving Yeldon an afterthought in most lineups. This week he gets the Colts, who have allowed the seventh most fantasy points to opposing RBs, including 12 total touchdowns.
Torrey Smith $6100: Much like it’s taken people a long time to come around on the Jags (those who have) no one believes in the 49ers. We don’t care if they win games, we care if their offense is better able to move the ball and two things have happened that make it so. First is Shaun Draughn, who people do believe in, and second is Blaine Gabbert, who people most definitely do not believe in. Together, they have created an offense that is keeping defenses honest and enabling the big plays down the field that Torrey Smith relies upon for his value. Smith averages over 20 yards per reception and necessarily doesn’t see a ton of targets, but a couple big ones are all he needs to make a big impact fantasy-wise. The Browns allow the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing WRs, making Anquan Boldin a good value cash game play and Smith an intriguing tournament option.
A.J. Green $8500: Green is like the red-headed stepchild of the red-headed QB that has let fantasy owners down for years. Not so much this year, as Andy Dalton is tied with Carson Palmer as the third most efficient QB (0.59 PPDB, per PFF) and has thrown an impressive 25 TDs with only 6 INTs. Green has been his main man with over 1000 yards on just 99 targets, a 71% catch rate and nearly 15 yards per reception on average. He’s cheaper than other elite receivers who have a similar ceiling and this week gets a nice matchup in a high scoring game with the rival Steelers. He went 11/118/1 against them in Week 8.
Travis Kelce $6000: Everyone is over the potential of Travis Kelce and resigned to his moderate usage, especially after a 2/42/0 week against Oakland. In a good matchup with the struggling Chargers, expect Kelce to see closer to his normal 6-8 targets and make the most of them.
Kansas City Chiefs $4800: The Chiefs at home have traditionally imposed an atmosphere that opponents find challenging and San Diego is no stranger to it. With injuries in the receiving game and ineffectiveness in the running game, San Diego is an easy target for a contrarian defense. The Chiefs D/ST was very effective a few weeks ago when these teams met in California.