The Contrarian: FanDuel Week 13

Identifying underexposed players to create roster uniqueness in tournaments.

Now that bye weeks have come and gone, we’ll have a full slate of games to choose from. In general, this means ownership percentages will be a little more spread out except in the cases of truly obvious plays. It also means we’ll have a gaggle of contrarian options each week. More choices don’t translate to better choices. But with the season past the halfway mark, we have a good lock on offensive and defensive trends. As such, we can identify under-owned players and build unique rosters with confidence.

Just like with fades, we’ll never advocate going contrarian for the sake contrarianism. There is a method to uniqueness. Throwing darts at low-floor, bottom depth chart players is not a part of that method. Taking advantage of injury situations and over/under point totals from Vegas is.

Going forward, 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 %

Cam Newton $9000 CAR@NO 18.8 Blake Bortles $7400 JAC@TEN 1.9
Andy Dalton $8000 CIN@CLE 7 Marcus Mariota $7100 JAC@TEN 1.8
Ben Roethlisberger $8100 IND@PIT 6.9 Russell Wilson $7800 SEA@MIN 1.7
Tom Brady $9400 PHI@NE 5.8 Brock Osweiler $6900 DEN@SD 1.7
Jay Cutler $7000 SF@CHI 4.5 Derek Carr $7700 KC@OAK 1.6
Ryan Fitzpatrick $7500 NYJ@NYG 3.2 Alex Smith $6600 KC@OAK 1.6
Carson Palmer $7900 ARI@STL 3 Matt Hasselbeck $6500 IND@PIT 1.6
Kirk Cousins $6600 DAL@WAS 3 Eli Manning $7600 NYJ@NYG 1.4
Ryan Tannehill $7300 BAL@MIA 2.1 Jameis Winston $7200 ATL@TB 1.4

There is no better contrarian play this week than Eli Manning. He is hosting a defense that is currently doing the cornerback shuffle with Darrelle Revis out. The Giants don’t have a running game so their wins and losses are on Manning’s arm. They also don’t have a defense, which suggests this game could end up being a shootout. $7,600 isn’t a lot to pay for a quarterback accompanied by one of the best receivers in the game. A Giants stack is in play this week.

Matt Hasselbeck is in an intriguing option. Though he gets a game manager rep, he’ll need to do a lot more than that against the Steelers. Thankfully, the Steelers pass defense is one of the worst in the league. They’ve allowed the second most passing yards and sixth most touchdowns. For $6,500, you can get a quarterback that has been efficient in relief of Andrew Luck this year and build a nice looking roster as a result.

We’d feel a lot more confident in Alex Smith, also a game manager, if he had some better receiving options. That said, Travis Kelce and Jeremy Maclin do enough to keep defenses honest, and both Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware are effective pass-catchers. The over/under of the Chiefs/Raiders tilt is set at 44 points, which feels low to us. Neither of these defenses can defend the pass and both teams are still in the hunt for a Wild Card.

Running Backs

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

DeAngelo Williams $7200 IND@PIT 25.4 Darren McFadden $7300 DAL@WAS 3.5
Jonathan Stewart $7200 CAR@NO 16.4 Shaun Draughn $5900 SF@CHI 3.4
Doug Martin $7600 ATL@TB 14.1 Todd Gurley $8400 ARI@STL 3.2
David Johnson $5900 ARI@STL 12.2 Spencer Ware $6500 KC@OAK 2.6
Adrian Peterson $9100 SEA@MIN 9 Charcandrick West $6700 KC@OAK 2.3
LeSean McCoy $7800 HOU@BUF 9 T.J. Yeldon $6100 JAC@TEN 2.3
C.J. Anderson $6800 DEN@SD 9 Jeremy Langford $6400 SF@CHI 2.2
Christopher Ivory $7100 NYJ@NYG 7.8 Jeremy Hill $6600 CIN@CLE 1.9
Thomas Rawls $7000 SEA@MIN 7.6 Ronnie Hillman $6300 DEN@SD 1.6
Matt Forte $7600 SF@CHI 6.7 Latavius Murray $6400 KC@OAK 1.2
Javorius Allen $6800 BAL@MIA 6.1 Mark Ingram $7200 CAR@NO 1.1
LeGarrette Blount $6900 PHI@NE 5.5 DeMarco Murray $7400 PHI@NE 0.9
Lamar Miller $6700 BAL@MIA 4.7 Danny Woodhead $5700 DEN@SD 0.9
Devonta Freeman $9000 ATL@TB 4.1 Frank Gore $6200 IND@PIT 0.4
Giovani Bernard $6200 CIN@CLE 3.7 Antonio Andrews $5600 JAC@TEN 0.2

As a general rule, we like to avoid running backs that are smothered by a committee approach. Such is the case for Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill. Bernard has played far more snaps than Hill and appears to be a better fit for the Bengals offensive scheme. But Hill is still getting enough work to justify a spot as a contrarian option in Week 13. The Browns are one of the worst rushing defenses in the league and will likely get blown out. As a result, Hill could be asked to close the game and should find the endzone. He was having a solid game last week before leaving with injury and scored twice in the week before. He is not on the injury report going into Sunday. We like his $6,600 salary and touchdown upside.

It’s hard to have faith in Shaun Draughn considering the offense he plays for. There’s nothing particularly special about the way he runs, either. He’s just kind of a guy who gets the benefit of no competition for carries. The Bears defense is beatable on the ground and even though the 49ers have been one of the worst offenses, Draughn’s usage and $5,900 salary makes him a contrarian candidate.

While the crowd flocks to C.J. Anderson licking their recency bias chops, Ronnie Hillman wants us to remember that he’s also good at football and has been a consistent option for the Broncos. This is another “hot hand” situation that we like to stay away from. But the Chargers are bad enough that it’s conceivable both Anderson and Hillman have big days. He may be a risky longshot, but his $6,300 salary, consistent usage and top-five matchup make his services worth consideration.

Wide Receivers

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Alshon Jeffery $7700 SF@CHI 22.8 Demaryius Thomas $7600 DEN@SD 4.8
Antonio Brown $9000 IND@PIT 19.1 Doug Baldwin $6200 SEA@MIN 4.8
A.J. Green $8400 CIN@CLE 14.2 Danny Amendola $6700 PHI@NE 4.2
Odell Beckham Jr. $9400 NYJ@NYG 10.9 Mike Evans $7900 ATL@TB 3.9
Julio Jones $9200 ATL@TB 10.4 Kamar Aiken $6100 BAL@MIA 3.8
Jeremy Maclin $6500 KC@OAK 10 Travis Benjamin $5900 CIN@CLE 3.2
Brandon LaFell $6600 PHI@NE 9.7 Dez Bryant $7200 DAL@WAS 2.9
Jarvis Landry $7400 BAL@MIA 9 Donte Moncrief $6400 IND@PIT 2.3
Brandon Marshall $8100 NYJ@NYG 8.8 DeVante Parker $5200 BAL@MIA 2.2
Allen Robinson $8000 JAC@TEN 8.8 Brandin Cooks $7100 CAR@NO 1.7
Martavis Bryant $6900 IND@PIT 8.7 Steve Johnson $6200 DEN@SD 1.3
Sammy Watkins $7000 HOU@BUF 8.5 Marvin Jones $5200 CIN@CLE 1.1
T.Y. Hilton $7300 IND@PIT 8.2 Stefon Diggs $6200 SEA@MIN 1
Larry Fitzgerald $7300 ARI@STL 6.6 Tavon Austin $6100 ARI@STL 1
Eric Decker $7200 NYJ@NYG 6.4 Anquan Boldin $6000 SF@CHI 1
DeSean Jackson $6500 DAL@WAS 6.3 Kendall Wright $5200 JAC@TEN 1
Amari Cooper $7000 KC@OAK 6 Vincent Jackson $6300 ATL@TB 0.7
Michael Crabtree $6600 KC@OAK 5.9 Rueben Randle $5800 NYJ@NYG 0.5
DeAndre Hopkins $8900 HOU@BUF 5.4 Jordan Matthews $6200 PHI@NE 0.4
Emmanuel Sanders $7300 DEN@SD 5 Dorial Green-Beckham $5100 JAC@TEN 0.1

The best way to be contrarian is to roster elite talent when the crowd is shy. Dez Bryant is as healthy as he has been all season. This week he gets a Monday night tilt against Washington, who have allowed the fifth most FanDuel points to receivers including the third most touchdowns. Matt Cassel is the only thing standing in his way. But his $7,200 salary and low exposure are too good to pass on. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him visit the endzone a few times Monday night.

If you like Hasselbeck you have to love Donte Moncrief. The Steelers, if you’ll remember, are one of the worst passing defenses in the league and were just blasted by Doug Baldwin last week. Moncrief benefits from T.Y. Hilton keeping defenders distracted. This contest could be the highest scoring of the week. In fact, it is our highest over/under point total (49), meaning Vegas expects two bad defenses to collide in a shootout Sunday night. $6,400 is a reasonable price to pay in a fantasy friendly matchup. As it stands, Moncrief has 17 targets over the last two games, most of any Colts receiver, and four redzone looks. He’s a good bet to find the endzone for the first time since Week 6.

Since returning from injury, Anquan Boldin has seen 18 targets of which he’s converted into 13 catches for a combined 186 yards. Blaine Gabbert has been playing decent, if not good, football lately, and he clearly favors Boldin as a check-down. The matchup isn’t sexy and the upside is downright ugly, but the Bears have allowed 15 touchdowns to wide receivers this year—tied for seventh most. It’s not pretty but if you’re looking for a cheap roster option, Boldin’s $6,000 is as about as safe as they come. 

Tight Ends

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Greg Olsen $6600 CAR@NO 27.7 Antonio Gates $5900 DEN@SD 3.7
Scott Chandler $5300 PHI@NE 13.9 Tyler Eifert $6400 CIN@CLE 2
Delanie Walker $6000 JAC@TEN 10.5 Kyle Rudolph $5100 SEA@MIN 1.4
Jordan Reed $5900 DAL@WAS 8.5 Jason Witten $5600 DAL@WAS 1
Julius Thomas $5800 JAC@TEN 6.6 Jacob Tamme $5200 ATL@TB 0.7
Travis Kelce $6200 KC@OAK 6.1 Vernon Davis $5200 DEN@SD 0.4
Gary Barnidge $6100 CIN@CLE 4.5 Charles Clay $5100 HOU@BUF 0.2

Based solely on the matchup, Kyle Rudolph makes for an interesting option. The Seahawks have been horrible at covering tight ends. Only three other teams have allowed more yards and more fantasy points per game. Rudolph is second in team targets and has compiled 159 yards and one touchdown over the last two weeks. There isn’t a better low-cost option at tight end in Week 13.

Leonard Hankerson will be out again this week, which means all of Matt Ryan’s check-downs belong, once again, to Jacob Tamme. He is our TE10 since Week 5 and has seen 52 targets during that span. The matchup isn’t the best but the volume should be there as the Buccaneers focus on stopping the combination of Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman.

The crowd is somewhat wise to Julius Thomas, who checks in as our fifth most popular option per Thursday night data. His $5,800 salary isn’t he easiest to swallow, but he has good matchup against the Titans. He found the endzone on one of his five catches the last time these two teams met. Unfortunately, he managed only 28 yards. We expect him to be more involved this time around, especially with Allen Hurns out.

Defense

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Carolina Panthers $4900 CAR@NO 17 Miami Dolphins $4500 BAL@MIA 2.7
Cincinnati Bengals $5100 CIN@CLE 14.3 Pittsburgh Steelers $4500 IND@PIT 2.2
New England Patriots $4800 PHI@NE 10.9 Buffalo Bills $4500 HOU@BUF 2.1
Arizona Cardinals $5400 ARI@STL 6.4 New York Jets $4600 NYJ@NYG 1.6
Denver Broncos $5300 DEN@SD 6 San Diego Chargers $4000 DEN@SD 0.8
Houston Texans $4900 HOU@BUF 3.2 Atlanta Falcons $4600 ATL@TB 0.5
Seattle Seahawks $4800 SEA@MIN 3 St Louis Rams $4600 ARI@STL 0.5
Kansas City Chiefs $4700 KC@OAK 2.9        

Remember last week when Matt Schaub took over as the starter for the Ravens? Yeah, he was awful and donated a pick-six in true Schaubian fashion. And that was against a really bad Browns defense. This week he travels to take on a Miami team that has been know to harass opposing quarterbacks thanks to Ndamukong Suh. Their price of $4,500 is plenty fair and could easily reach tournament value should Schaub play like he did last Monday night.

If you’re in need of some salary cap flexibility and want to totally punt this position, then the Chargers are for you. Yes, their defense is horrible and have been overly generous to just about every offense they’ve faced. But they are playing Brock Osweiler who can be careless. There’s no stats to back up the claim that they are a good contrarian play. This is simply a punt and pray scenario. Should they luck into a pick-six, they’ll easily return value. Again, if you’re picking up their $4,000 salary, you’re doing it because you’ve pimped out your roster at every other position in hopes that those players will cover the difference.