Saturday, November 7, 2015

Contrarian Plays: Week 9

As you already know, finding a contrarian option doesn't mean drilling to the bottom of a depth chart and rostering a low-cost player on the off chance that they luck into a touchdown or see more playing time thanks to an in-game injury. Contrarianism is more about under-owned players and less about being unique for the sake of uniqueness.

Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. were under-owned last week. The matchup should have begged us to roll that stack in a lot of tournament rosters. Everything looks obvious in hindsight, of course. But we can chalk it up as lessons learned: starting elite players when the crowd is shy makes for a better contrarian play than a deep roster Hail Mary.

So remember that on Sunday morning when you're clicking submit for the final time. Consider that, maybe, Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb are this week's Manning and Beckham Jr. Or maybe this is the week for a Broncos power stack of Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Remember that Vegas isn't interested in being right; they're interested in being equal, as in, equal amounts of money on both sides of a bet. So fading Vegas, as in, ignoring an over/under (like the Colts/Broncos 45.5 points) is a great way to be contrarian.

With that in mind, here is an excerpt from this week's contrarian plays:

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Alshon Jeffery $7900 CHI@SD 20.3 Brandon LaFell $5200 WAS@NE 4.3
Odell Beckham Jr. $9000 NYG@TB 19.7 Rishard Matthews $6500 MIA@BUF 3.7
Malcom Floyd $6100 CHI@SD 18.1 James Jones $6000 GB@CAR 3.3
Julian Edelman $8000 WAS@NE 16.8 Randall Cobb $7400 GB@CAR 3.3
Julio Jones $9200 ATL@SF 15.4 Ted Ginn Jr. $5300 GB@CAR 2.9
Antonio Brown $8700 OAK@PIT 13.2 Allen Hurns $6800 JAC@NYJ 2.2
Michael Crabtree $5800 OAK@PIT 13.2 Jordan Matthews $6300 PHI@DAL 1.5
Amari Cooper $7300 OAK@PIT 12.7 Robert Woods $4900 MIA@BUF 1.5
Tavon Austin $5700 STL@MIN 10.9 Dez Bryant $7900 PHI@DAL 1.2
T.Y. Hilton $7700 DEN@IND 9.7 Donte Moncrief $6400 DEN@IND 1
Mike Evans $7500 NYG@TB 9.6 Pierre Garcon $6300 WAS@NE 1
Steve Johnson $5400 CHI@SD 9.3 Brandon Marshall $8100 JAC@NYJ 0.7
Brandin Cooks $7100 TEN@NO 9 Dwayne Harris $5300 NYG@TB 0.7
Demaryius Thomas $8400 DEN@IND 8.6 Davante Adams $5100 GB@CAR 0.7
Jarvis Landry $7000 MIA@BUF 8.6 Dorial Green-Beckham $4900 TEN@NO 0.6
Willie Snead $6100 TEN@NO 8.6 Sammy Watkins $6200 MIA@BUF 0.5
Eric Decker $6300 JAC@NYJ 7.1 Terrance Williams $5600 PHI@DAL 0.4
Martavis Bryant $6900 OAK@PIT 6.9 Roddy White $5300 ATL@SF 0.4
Stefon Diggs $7400 STL@MIN 5.6 Marquess Wilson $4800 CHI@SD 0.3
Emmanuel Sanders $7600 DEN@IND 5.3 Rueben Randle $5500 NYG@TB 0.2
Allen Robinson $7200 JAC@NYJ 4.6 Riley Cooper $5300 PHI@DAL 0.1

We expect Steve Johnson’s ownership to be higher come Sunday, but not so high that we shouldn’t take advantage of his $5,400 salary in what will be a Monday night shootout. Only the Ravens have allowed more touchdowns to wide receivers. Johnson should see plenty of targets in the Eddie Royal role.

Speaking of Royal, he’s unlikely to play in this contest so that means more snaps for Marquess Wilson. We’ve seen what he can do when featured in the Bears offense. In Week 4 and Week 5, he caught 12 of 16 targets for 165 yards and a touchdown. This week he’ll benefit from single coverage as the Chargers focus on Alshon Jeffery. You won’t find a better option for less than $5,000.

Unless, of course, you think Dorial Green-Beckham will finally make use of his size and opportunity. The report from Nashville is that the Titans want him to block better. We just want him to receive better. He’ll have his opportunities against the Saints—who were just thrashed by the other Beckham last week—with Kendall Wright injured. The return of more accurate, more mobile Marcus Mariota should help, though we’ll miss out on the gun-slinging ways of Zach Mettenberger. In any case, if the Titans can get their offense going in the wake of firing their head coach, Green-Beckham might find the endzone once or twice. His $4,900 salary does a lot for the rest of our roster.

In his first game since Week 1, Dez Bryant caught only two passes for 12 yards. But he was anything but quiet. Matt Cassel targeted him six times, more than any other receiver including Jason Witten. Unfortunately, Richard Sherman was all over Bryant, who may not be full speed just yet. He’ll have an easier time against the Eagles, who look a lot better on the stat sheet (they lead the league in takeaways) than they do on the field. They’re allowing only 31.5 FanDuel points per game to receivers, but when they’ve faced a true No. 1 they’ve been burned. Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, and even Brandin Cooks/Willie Snead have had their way against this secondary. Bryant’s $7,900 salary is the lowest it has been since 2011—long before Bradley C. won his $349. Fire Bryant up as a contrarian play and pray Cassel gets things turned around.

Now might be the time to take advantage of Brandon LaFell. His $5,200 price tag is a steal considering the Patriots are projected to score 33 points and are favored by two touchdowns. He has been targeted 15 times over the last two games and played on 87 percent of snaps last week. The Washington secondary has been getting pushed around lately, having allowed 400 yards and four touchdowns in their last two games. This a great week for LaFell to get back. His salary makes it possible to roster Touchdown Tom and still build a quality lineup.


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