Week 2 was a week that many walked away from scratching their heads. The decline of Peyton Manning was a hot topic heading into last week’s games. And then Manning threw for 256 yards and three touchdowns against the Chiefs. The Saints looked to be one of the safer offenses to target last week. Playing in their home opener against a Buccaneers team that was shellacked in Week 1, many people banked on Drew Brees and the Saints offense to lead them to the promised land. The Saints lost 26-19 and Brees threw for only one touchdown. The game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles was projected to be one of the highest-scoring games of the week with plenty of offensive fireworks. The Cowboys won 20-10 in a game devoid of the expected fantasy output.
Strange week for certain, but the week also provides a great example of the benefits of going slightly against the grain with our thinking. Following the wisdom of the crowd can work in certain situations, but as the above illustrates the crowd is not always correct. If it was, we would see several thousand people tie for first place in huge tournaments like this one.
So when is a good time to go against the wisdom of the crowd? It varies, but a good rule of thumb is when there’s a consensus must-play player for a given week that is certain to be highly-owned you may want to start looking elsewhere. Those players may set the world on fire that particular week, but the upside gained from having them on your roster is often mitigated when they are also among the highest-owned players in a tournament. Each week, we help you find some of these players in this article.
For Week 3, we have a large group of players in attractive matchups that will surely capture a lot of attention. It’s a perfect time to employ some contrarian thinking and find the hidden gems that can really help separate our lineups from the pack. We’ll start our search with the quarterback position.
Andy Dalton, $5,700
The Bengals have quietly started out 2015 playing very well en route to a record of 2-0. Dalton in particular has been very solid, throwing for 483 yards, five touchdowns and no picks with a 68.3% completion percentage. However, many people are not yet sold on Dalton and keep waiting for the bad Andy to rear his head. Add in the fact that the Bengals travel to Baltimore for a heated rivalry game against a Ravens team coming off of a bad loss and we have a situation that most will take a pass on.
Looking at things a little closer, they may want to reconsider. The Bengals were an average offense last season that may have turned the corner in 2015. The reason? More weapons. In addition to the stellar A.J. Green and the two-headed monster in the backfield, Dalton now has Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert at his disposal. Eifert in particular has been off to a fantastic start with 13 catches for 153 yards and three touchdowns. Dalton comes in at a very affordable price of $5,700, take advantage of the discount for this week.
Derek Carr, $5,300
Carr is another quarterback that may not have earned the public’s trust as of yet. A shaky performance from the Raiders as a whole led to Carr throwing for a paltry 61 yards in Week 1, but he was able to bounce back in a big way last week. Carr threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns while leading the Raiders to a last-minute victory over the Ravens. The Raiders head to Cleveland on Sunday to face a Browns team that has surrendered two touchdown passes in each of the first two weeks. Good chance for Carr to make it three in a row for what could be an improved Raiders offense.
Justin Forsett, $6,000
Forsett has been underwhelming so far with only 9.6 and 12.0 points on DraftKings versus the Broncos and Raiders respectively. To make matters worse, Lorenzo Taliafero has been cutting into his snap count by playing 31 snaps on Sunday compared to Forsett’s 45. Taliafero has been banged up and missed a few practices this week, if he does play he may be limited and Forsett could see some extra work. He faces a Bengals team that allowed 131 rushing yards last week and also allowed Danny Woodhead to catch six passes for 68 yards. Look for Forsett to get back on track this week.
Joseph Randle, $5,100
Randle has not had a strong start to the season. He’s carried the ball 34 times for 116 yards and no touchdowns but has also caught four passes for 56 yards. With backup Brandon Weeden at the helm, the Cowboys will need all facets of the game to step up – starting with the running game. Randle has seen the bulk of the backfield work thus far by more than a 2 to 1 margin over Darren McFadden. The time has come for him to make the most of his opportunity and to help give Weeden a fighting chance to produce as the starter in the process. The Falcons allowed two rushing touchdowns to the Eagles in Week 1 and have been susceptible to short passes to running backs in each of the first two weeks. Randle can easily cover his salary and has a chance to provide a nice return on a low-cost investment.
Jeremy Maclin, $6,000
As expected, Maclin has quickly become the favorite target for Alex Smith. He has been targeted 16 times through two games, catching nine for 109 yards. The signature big play has not come as of yet, but Maclin broke a 20-yarder in Week 1 and a 30-yarder in Week 3. The big play is coming and it may be this week. For this game, we have a Chiefs team that is coming off of a devastating loss at home to the Broncos traveling to Green Bay to face the Packers. The Chiefs are a 6 ½ -point underdog which sets up well for the passing game, a passing game which is actually improved this season – partially due to Maclin and partially due to the continued emergence of Travis Kelce. Add in the electric Jamaal Charles and we have an offense that can put some points on the board. Look for Maclin to receive plenty of targets as the Chiefs try to keep pace or catch-up.
John Brown, $5,100
The Cardinals offense has been off to a great start and that trend should continue at home against the 49ers on Sunday. Teammate Larry Fitzgerald had a very productive Week 2 while hauling in three touchdowns. While the masses flock to Fitzgerald and hope for a repeat, pivot to Brown to gain some exposure to the Cardinals offense. Pretty safe to say that Fitzgerald will not be catching three touchdowns again this week and that the 49ers may be paying him some extra attention. Some of Fitzgerald’s targets may head Brown’s way this week, a player who can produce when given the opportunity. Brown can also save you $700 in salary cap space over Fitzgerald. If you’re thinking Cardinals this week, shake things up a bit and take a long look at Brown.
Kyle Rudolph, $3,300
Rudolph leads the Vikings in targets through two weeks with 13, catching 10 of them for 83 yards and a touchdown. The Vikings offense as a whole looked much better in Week 2 after coming out flat in Week 1 and will look to carry that over when they face the Chargers on Sunday. The Chargers have given up a touchdown to a tight end in each of the first two weeks. The Vikings are a 2 ½ -point favorite in a game that projects to be pretty tight with an over/under of 44 ½. Rudolph looks like a low-cost way to find some targets at tight end and hopefully find his way into the end zone.
Jared Cook, $2,800
Cook is another low-cost tight end that receives plenty of targets. He has been targeted 12 times thus far, catching 10 of them for 132 yards but has yet to find the end zone. The game against the Steelers has one of the higher over/unders this week at 48 with Pittsburgh a 1-point favorite, looks to be a close and relatively high-scoring game. The Steelers have allowed 178 yards to tight ends through two weeks and were lit up for four touchdowns from the position in Week 1. Granted, that was against the Patriots but they seem to have some issues covering the tight end. Look for Cook to receive plenty of work this week and perhaps put an early end to his touchdown drought.
Denver Broncos, $3,000
The Broncos will have their share of owners in their corner this week but nothing near the ownership percentage of the Seahawks and Panthers. Both teams will be facing backup quarterbacks and already struggling offenses, typically a recipe for fantasy goodness. Switch things up and find a defense with similar upside. The Broncos can create pressure and get to the quarterback, two things Matthew Stafford is not looking forward to after the pounding he took last week.
New York Jets, $3,000
Similar to the Broncos, the Jets should fall into the relatively highly-owned category as opposed to the really highly-owned column. The Jets can create turnovers and the Eagles are in the midst of sorting through some problems on offense. Whether they correct them or not remains to be seen, but there’s a pretty good chance the Jets will make their lives difficult on Sunday.
There should be several players that are pretty highly-owned this week. Some of them will look a little too good to pass up. When making your final roster decisions, just remember that finding the hidden gem can make a ton of difference. Ten of those potential gems have been presented for your consideration. Keep them in mind while constructing your lineups. Best of luck this weekend!