The Contrarian: FanDuel Week 11

Identifying underexposed players to create roster uniqueness in tournaments.

Welcome to backup week in the NFL. We have five quarterbacks, ones that normally spend Sundays on the sideline, stepping into a lead role thanks to injuries or poor play. Chances are that at least of these five quarterbacks is going to have a solid game and return tournament value, especially considering they all come at a discount. All we have to do is pick the right one.

That, of course, has been our process in the space all season. Said backups are all going to have low exposure simply because the crowd is either unaware of their value, or too afraid to risk their rosters with a player that’s on the team for nothing more than depth. As a result, we’re provided with more contrarian options than usual. Just like with fades, we’ll never advocate going contrarian for the sake contrarianism. That said, we’ll have to leave our comfort zones a little bit. So be sure to protect your bankrolls and limit how much you invest as a contrarian.

The numbers presented in the tables below are taken from a $2 Thursday night GPP. We can use these exposure percentages to assist our ownership projections for Sunday/Monday GPPs. Doing so increases our accuracy and provides a clearer picture of groupthink—something we’ll almost always try to avoid.

Quarterbacks

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Derek Carr $7700 OAK@DET 16.1 Alex Smith $6200 KC@SD 2.1
Cam Newton $8600 WAS@CAR 11.7 Tony Romo $8000 DAL@MIA 2
Tom Brady $9200 BUF@NE 9.3 Russell Wilson $7600 SF@SEA 2
Matt Ryan $7800 IND@ATL 5.2 Mark Sanchez $6400 TB@PHI 1.8
Matthew Stafford $7000 OAK@DET 4.7 Aaron Rodgers $8900 GB@MIN 1.4
Carson Palmer $8200 CIN@ARI 4.3 Tyrod Taylor $7200 BUF@NE 1.4
Brock Osweiler $6000 DEN@CHI 4 Ryan Tannehill $7000 DAL@MIA 1.4
Philip Rivers $8300 KC@SD 3.3 Andy Dalton $7900 CIN@ARI 1.1
Case Keenum $4800 STL@BAL 2.5 Ryan Fitzpatrick $7400 NYJ@HOU 0.2

There are two competing narratives to buy into regarding the Cardinals/Bengals throw down: Carson Palmer returning to destroy the team that refused to trade him back in 2010; the team that refused said trade handing him an ugly loss. We’re going to buy into the Palmer side. This has the makings of a revenge game in which the Cardinals will make every attempt to run up the score. And it shouldn’t be hard for them to do so. Palmer is surrounded by wealth of weapons and deep offensive depth chart to cover up injuries. The Bengals have a stingy defense that’s allowed only 11 passing touchdowns to nine interceptions and rank seventh in the fewest FanDuel points allowed to quarterbacks. As such, the crowd is staying away. We’ll be happy to fade the crowd and jump all over the Cardinals in one of the highest over/under totals of the week. Also, let’s remember that Joe Flacco and Alex Smith dropped 362 and 386 yards respectively on this secondary earlier this season, so we shouldn’t overcompensate when analyzing this matchup.

Down in the bargain bin and barely making an appearance on Thursday rosters is Mark Sanchez. Basically, if not for Chip Kelly, we’d start whichever defense Sanchez is facing. But he has put together some excellent games as an Eagle. He wasn’t great in relief last week, especially considering the horrible endzone interception. But he also had a beautiful touchdown pass to Zach Ertz called back thanks to Riley Cooper getting called for an offensive penalty. Sanchez looked decent coming off the bench. Now with a full week of practices under his belt, we like him to layout a susceptible Buccaneers secondary that has allowed the third most passing touchdowns and seventh most fantasy points per attempt. It’s also worth noting that Sanchez is a good runner and Kelly plays to those strengths by utilizing more of read-option approach. Feel free to pay the $6,400 and pimp out your roster elsewhere.

There are seven kickers priced higher than Case Keenum. Look, we know what we’re getting: we’re getting a bad offense on the road with a backup quarterback that hasn’t started a game since Week 17 of 2014. By the way, he scored 17 FanDuel points in that game. The Ravens have allowed 21.7 points per game to quarterbacks, second most, and their 18 touchdowns rank fifth. But none of that matters. All that matters is that Keenum will cost you just $4,800. He’ll return greater than 2x value with 150 yards and a touchdown. Should he luck into a pair of touchdowns and avoid that many interceptions, he’ll return 3x value with ease. That, of course, still means only 14.4 points. But since you’ll be charged just eight percent of the cap to acquire his services, the rest of your pimped out roster will make up for it.

Running Backs

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Charcandrick West $7100 KC@SD 34.1 Karlos Williams $5700 BUF@NE 1.6
Devonta Freeman $9100 IND@ATL 25 Chris Johnson $6800 CIN@ARI 1.3
Lamar Miller $7400 DAL@MIA 18.3 Ronnie Hillman $6200 DEN@CHI 1.2
Todd Gurley $9200 STL@BAL 13.5 Justin Forsett $6900 STL@BAL 0.9
Adrian Peterson $8900 GB@MIN 11.7 Matt Jones $6100 WAS@CAR 0.9
Jeremy Langford $6700 DEN@CHI 10.9 Giovani Bernard $6300 CIN@ARI 0.8
Christopher Ivory $7200 NYJ@HOU 8.9 Darren Sproles $5400 TB@PHI 0.4
DeMarco Murray $7600 TB@PHI 8.6 C.J. Anderson $5700 DEN@CHI 0.3
Darren McFadden $6800 DAL@MIA 7.6 Jay Ajayi $5200 DAL@MIA 0.3
Danny Woodhead $6400 KC@SD 7.3 Jeremy Hill $6500 CIN@ARI 0.2
Jonathan Stewart $7000 WAS@CAR 7 Melvin Gordon $6000 KC@SD 0.2
Latavius Murray $6800 OAK@DET 7 Theo Riddick $5100 OAK@DET 0.2
LeGarrette Blount $7300 BUF@NE 6.5 Matt Forte $7800 DEN@CHI 0.1
Marshawn Lynch $8100 SF@SEA 4.8 Brandon Bolden $5900 BUF@NE 0.1
LeSean McCoy $7500 BUF@NE 4.7 Eddie Lacy $5600 GB@MIN 0.1
Frank Gore $6600 IND@ATL 3 Thomas Rawls $5600 SF@SEA 0.1
Doug Martin $6600 TB@PHI 2.8 Alfred Morris $5400 WAS@CAR 0.1
James Starks $6200 GB@MIN 2.2 Charles Sims $5200 TB@PHI 0.1

We’ll need to check in on his injury status before committing, but the fact that Marshawn Lynch, at a reasonable price tag of $8,100, was only on 4.8 percent of Thursday rosters means he might the GPP play of the week. He’s listed as questionable, just as he was last week, but we doubt he sits this one out. It’s also possible they keep him on pitch-count and pull him if the game, predictably, gets out of control. Of course, if the game gets out of control, as in a multiple score lead by the Seahawks, it’s likely thanks to Lynch.

One running back that’s guaranteed to get a full workload with no threat to his snap counts is Latavius Murray. It’s strange that the Thursday crowd would rather roll with someone like Danny Woodhead when, for just $400 more, you get an RB1 playing for a team that ranks 10th in both points scored and total yards. Coincidently, Murray ranks 10th overall among running backs in FanDuel scoring. He hasn’t reached the endzone in three straight weeks; luckily for him, the Lions have allowed more rushing touchdowns than any team in the league and pose no threat to slowing him down. For $6,800, there may not be a better value available in Week 11. Also, there’s this:

 

In the bargain bin we have Theo Riddick, who should have had more impact last week but the Lions somehow kept the game in check and his services weren’t needed. The game script this week promises the same thing only we believe the Raiders will control the lead and Riddick will benefit from added passing downs. The Raiders have allowed 60 receptions (third most) to running backs and 462 receiving yards to go along with three touchdowns. There are a lot of good options this week in the running back department, but if you’re looking to cut against the crowd while reserving your cap space, Riddick’s $5,100 is worth consideration.

Wide Receivers

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Danny Amendola $6100 BUF@NE 27.1 Rishard Matthews $6400 DAL@MIA 2.4
Julio Jones $9100 IND@ATL 25.8 Doug Baldwin $5400 SF@SEA 2.2
Amari Cooper $7200 OAK@DET 22.9 Michael Floyd $6400 CIN@ARI 1.7
Michael Crabtree $6500 OAK@DET 19.8 Golden Tate $6200 OAK@DET 1.7
Mike Evans $8000 TB@PHI 12.1 John Brown $5700 CIN@ARI 1.7
Larry Fitzgerald $7400 CIN@ARI 12.1 Ted Ginn Jr. $5200 WAS@CAR 1.7
Jarvis Landry $7200 DAL@MIA 11.1 Marvin Jones $5400 CIN@ARI 1.3
Eric Decker $7000 NYJ@HOU 8.9 Donte Moncrief $6100 IND@ATL 1.2
Steve Johnson $5600 KC@SD 8.9 Cole Beasley $5400 DAL@MIA 1
Calvin Johnson $8100 OAK@DET 8 Nate Washington $5600 NYJ@HOU 0.9
Brandon LaFell $6900 BUF@NE 7.3 James Jones $5200 GB@MIN 0.9
Stefon Diggs $6700 GB@MIN 6.7 DeSean Jackson $6100 WAS@CAR 0.8
Dez Bryant $8400 DAL@MIA 6.5 Wes Welker $5200 STL@BAL 0.8
Demaryius Thomas $7700 DEN@CHI 6.5 Terrance Williams $5300 DAL@MIA 0.6
Sammy Watkins $6600 BUF@NE 6.1 Jamison Crowder $5800 WAS@CAR 0.5
Tavon Austin $6000 STL@BAL 4.8 Andre Johnson $5400 IND@ATL 0.5
Randall Cobb $7100 GB@MIN 4.2 Pierre Garcon $6000 WAS@CAR 0.4
Davante Adams $6800 GB@MIN 4.1 Chris Givens $4500 STL@BAL 0.4
T.Y. Hilton $7200 IND@ATL 4 Emmanuel Sanders $7600 DEN@CHI 0.3
DeAndre Hopkins $8900 NYJ@HOU 3.8 Roddy White $5400 IND@ATL 0.3
Brandon Marshall $7900 NYJ@HOU 3.8 Dontrelle Inman $5000 KC@SD 0.3
Jordan Matthews $6300 TB@PHI 3.8 Torrey Smith $5500 SF@SEA 0.2
A.J. Green $8200 CIN@ARI 3.6 Cecil Shorts $5400 NYJ@HOU 0.2
Jeremy Maclin $6300 KC@SD 3.5 Mike Wallace $5200 GB@MIN 0.2
Alshon Jeffery $7500 DEN@CHI 3.2 Robert Woods $5100 BUF@NE 0.2
Kamar Aiken $5900 STL@BAL 2.6 Kenny Britt $5300 STL@BAL 0.1

The Buffalo Bills will have 11 days to prepare for their divisional showdown with the Patriots on Monday night. This is a good thing for a healing Sammy Watkins Jr. The Patriots have allowed the fifth most receiving yards and third most fantasy points per game to wide receivers. We expect the Bills to fall behind and be forced into a lot of throwing. Watkins would have had a decent game last week, despite being on Revis island, but clearly he and Tyrod Taylor have some chemistry issues. A long week will surely fix those. For $6,600, it’ll be hard to find a higher ceiling.

We expect Dez Bryant’s exposure to be higher on Sunday than it was on Thursday. With Tony Romo back healthy, Bryant is back in the conversation as one of the best wide receivers available. The Dolphins look tough on paper but that’s more due to quality of competition than quality cornerback play. Let’s not forget that Allen Robinson, Brandon Marshall and Watkins have all had their way with this secondary. Another words, true WR1s slay them. It’s possible there’s a little rust in Romo’s first game back but Bryant is going to be the focal point. This might be the last week to get him on the cheap.

It doesn’t yield the results you would expect, but Golden Tate ranks 24th in targets among receivers. Obviously, Calvin Johnson is still the man on that offense, so while the Raiders attempt to figure him out, Tate should benefit from his usual single coverage against a secondary that has allowed the seventh most receiving yards and third most receptions to wide receivers. They’ve been stingy in the touchdown department but are otherwise an exploitable defense. This game features our highest/over under of the week at 49.5 points. Tate’s $6,200 is worth tournament consideration.

Tight Ends

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Greg Olsen $6400 WAS@CAR 20.3 Jacob Tamme $5300 IND@ATL 2.2
Rob Gronkowski $8400 BUF@NE 14.4 Richard Rodgers $5400 GB@MIN 1.3
Travis Kelce $5700 KC@SD 6.9 Martellus Bennett $5200 DEN@CHI 1.3
Jordan Reed $5800 WAS@CAR 6.7 Crockett Gillmore $5300 STL@BAL 1.1
Antonio Gates $5900 KC@SD 5.5 Coby Fleener $5000 IND@ATL 0.8
Tyler Eifert $6200 CIN@ARI 5.2 Charles Clay $5200 BUF@NE 0.8
Jason Witten $5500 DAL@MIA 4.8 Zach Ertz $5200 TB@PHI 0.7
Eric Ebron $5400 OAK@DET 3.9 Brent Celek $5300 TB@PHI 0.3
Jimmy Graham $5800 SF@SEA 3.3 Vernon Davis $5000 DEN@CHI 0.3

Staying in Detroit, Eric Ebron has seen 18 targets over the Lions’ last three games which is second only to Johnson. This week he gets a Raiders defense that has allowed the third most points per game. Most of that came in the beginning of the season when they faced a slew of stud tight ends. We still like Ebron to find the endzone in a high-scoring contest. Also, between Johnson, Tate and Ebron, Matthew Stafford is worth a GPP bid.

We mentioned Zach Ertz had a touchdown called back last Sunday. He also led the team in targets and was Sanchez’s first look. The matchup doesn’t bode well defensively, as the Buccaneers have been average against tight ends. But with the Eagles offense catering towards a read-option attack, Ertz should be in line for healthy share of targets and scoring opportunities.

Defense

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Seattle Seahawks $5400 SF@SEA 20 New England Patriots $4800 BUF@NE 3.9
Carolina Panthers $4900 WAS@CAR 11.6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers $4000 TB@PHI 3.7
New York Jets $4700 NYJ@HOU 9.3 Arizona Cardinals $4800 CIN@ARI 2.9
Philadelphia Eagles $4900 TB@PHI 6.2 Atlanta Falcons $4600 IND@ATL 2.6
Kansas City Chiefs $4400 KC@SD 4.9 Miami Dolphins $4700 DAL@MIA 1.5
St Louis Rams $5000 STL@BAL 4.8 Oakland Raiders $4500 OAK@DET 1.4
Chicago Bears $4200 DEN@CHI 4.3 Dallas Cowboys $4400 DAL@MIA 1
Denver Broncos $5300 DEN@CHI 4.2 Green Bay Packers $4600 GB@MIN 0.8
Houston Texans $4500 NYJ@HOU 4 Cincinnati Bengals $4700 CIN@ARI 0.5

This is a tough week to bet against the crowd defensively. The Seahawks, Panthers and Jets all line up in favorable game scripts. The Falcons also have a favorable situation. Matt Hasselbeck is a game manager and won’t take many risks, but it’s unlikely he drives up the score either.

If you want to completely punt this position and grab the cheapest option on the board, the Buccaneers might luck into a few sacks and a possible pick-six. As much as we like Sanchez, he is prone to throwing the ball to defenders.