The Contrarian is back for Week 12 to help you find some hidden gems to help round out your lineups for the week. We’ve spent a lot of time this season going through the thought process for what makes for a good contrarian selection. This week, we’ll take a look at some of the factors that will cause many DFSers to look past certain players and how that applies to Week 12. Let’s get started with some of the lowest-projected scoring contests of the week.
Games With Lowest Projected Totals
- Buffalo @ Kansas City. Chiefs -6, 41 ½. This could be a close defensive struggle between two clubs that can be shut down offensively.
- St. Louis at Cincinnati. Bengals -9, 42. The Bengals are expected to have their way with the Rams and could call the dogs off early.
- Miami @ New York Jets. Jets -3 ½, 42 ½. The Jets have lost four of their last five while the Dolphins have dropped three of their last four.
- New England @ Denver. Patriots -3, 43 ½. Brady-Manning has changed to Brady-Osweiler.
- Baltimore @ Cleveland. Browns -3, 41. Two struggling squads face off in a Monday Night affair.
Games with low projected totals can sometimes fly under the radar and provide some of the week’s hidden gems. Of these five matchups, do any of them have a chance to develop into a sneaky shootout? Are any of these offenses in position to outperform expectations for this week? Amy players that have extremely favorable matchups and poised for a breakout?
Tough Defensive Matchups
- Broncos vs. QBs. The Broncos have been stout defensively throughout 2015, but face off with their stiffest test of the season when the Patriots come to town.
- Seahawks vs. RBs. The Seahawks defense is not what it once was but is still an imposing hurdle for opposing running backs.
- Rams vs. WRs. The Rams have held opposing wideouts in check for much of 2015.
- Chiefs vs. TEs. The Chiefs have allowed only two touchdowns to opposing tight ends this season.
- Patriots vs. DEF. Negative points for opposing defenses has occurred four times this season.
Many DFSers will automatically bypass a matchup with a tough defensive squad without giving it a second thought, but by digging a little deeper we can sometimes uncover a diamond in the rough. Have any of the above teams fallen flat against the position at any point this season? Are any of them showing a clear pattern of decline against the position?
Last Week’s Disappointments
- WAS QB Kirk Cousins. Cousins was plagued by turnovers in last week’s loss to the Panthers.
- NYJ RB Chris Ivory. The Jets offense as a whole struggled against the Texans and playing catchup did not lead to a ton of opportunity for Ivory.
- SD WR Steve Johnson. Johnson is receiving plenty of targets as the Chargers top receiver but has not found the end zone since Week 2.
- BUF TE Charles Clay. Clay was banged up against the Patriots and was held to a single reception for 14 yards.
- SEA Defense. The dominating performance against the 49ers failed to come to fruition.
It’s important to have a short memory for DFS purposes. Last week’s duds can become this week’s studs and vice versa. Of the above players, which ones were the victims of a poor game plan or a game script that did not set-up in their favor? Are any of the above in favorable matchups this week and primed for a bounce back game?
We can find a host of additional contrarian selections for Week 12 by analyzing the above factors, but the below players look like outstanding candidates for some of the week’s top under the radar performances. Let’s take a look at this week’s top contrarian candidates, starting with the quarterback position.
Marcus Mariota, $5,500
The rookie signal caller has been inconsistent of late but is in a good spot for a productive day against the Raiders, who have lost three in a row after showing some early season promise. The Raiders have allowed several big games to opposing quarterbacks in 2015 and Mariota is averaging a respectable 18.8 points per game with three 20+ point performances under his belt. Look for Mariota to easily return 3x value with the upside of a 4x return not out of the question.
Blake Bortles, $5,900
Bortles is in a great spot this week against a struggling Chargers squad in a game with one of the highest projected totals of the week at 46 ½ points. He’s quietly averaging 20.1 points per game and has exceeded that mark four times this season. The Chargers have allowed multiple touchdown passes in six of their ten games this season and are coming in off of a shellacking at the hands of the Chiefs. The Jaguars have an outside chance at the AFC South crown this season, we’ll look for a solid day from Bortles and the passing game to keep them squarely in the mix.
DeAngelo Williams, $5,700
We touched on the strength of the Seahawks rushing defense earlier and how that will lead many to shy away from opposing running backs. While the Seahawks remain strong against the run, stronger teams have had some success – the Panthers in Week 6 and the Cardinals in Week 10. The Steelers may not be quite at that level, but they remain in control of the top Wild Card spot in the AFC. Williams has filled in admirably since assuming the lead back role and he could be in line for a sneaky good performance on Sunday. The Steelers have too many weapons for a slipping Seahawks defense to completely hold them in check.
T.J. Yeldon, $4,800
Yeldon has been overshadowed by the exploits of fellow rookie running back Todd Gurley, but has quietly put together a respectable first year as the Jaguars lead back. He’s averaging 13.2 points per game and faces off with a Chargers squad that is at the bottom of the barrel in terms of rushing defense. The Jaguars could be one of these sneaky teams that provide a lot of fantasy goodness for Week 12. Pick your spot between the passing and running game, but keep Yeldon and the Jaguars on your radar as attractive, low-cost contrarian candidates.
Demaryius Thomas, $7,400
Thomas found the end zone for only the second time in 2015 last week with Brock Osweiler behind center. Osweiler returns to the helm for a date with the Patriots and we could see the Broncos have no choice but to air it out to keep pace with the high-powered Patriots offense. The Patriots have allowed some big games to opposing wideouts this season, especially when they have jumped out to a lead. Look for Thomas to exceed his season-long average of 17.9 points and to find the end zone for the third time this season.
DeSean Jackson, $5,100
Jackson was one of the few bright spots for the Washington offense in last week’s defeat to the Panthers. He hauled in five of his eight targets for 87 yards and a score, good enough for a cool 19.7 points. This week’s game against the Giants projects to be pretty high-scoring with a projected total of 47 points. Look for Jackson to be involved early and often against a beatable Giants secondary and to have a strong chance of breaking one of his signature long touchdown receptions.
Heath Miller, $3,100
The Seahawks have been clearly vulnerable against opposing tight ends by allowing seven touchdowns and several big days to the position over the course of the 2015 season. Miller is averaging only 8.0 points per game this season but remains a safety net target for Ben Roethlisberger. As the Seahawks focus on stopping the run and limiting the damage from the Steelers talented wideouts, look for Miller to quietly put together a solid receiving day and hopefully sneak in the end zone.
Delanie Walker, $5,400
A stack of Mariota and Walker could work out nicely this Sunday. Walker is averaging 15.3 points per game this season and has exceeded that mark in two of his last three games. The duo has developed some solid chemistry and we can expect Walker to continue being a preferred target for the rookie quarterback. The Raiders have had some well-documented struggles against opposing tight ends this season and could be in line for another rough outing against the position this week when they travel to Tennessee for a 1pm kickoff.
Pittsburgh Steelers, $3,000
While many will consider the Seahawks defense for their home game against the Steelers, consider saving some much-needed salary cap space by looking to the other sideline. The Steelers defense is averaging 8.5 points per game and has reached double-digits on five occasions this year. The mystique of the Seahawks home field is beginning to wane as the club has already dropped two games in front of the home crowd. Keep the Steelers in mind as a sneaky, under the radar play.
New Orleans Saints, $2,300
The Saints defense will be targeted by many for DFS this week, but in the opposite manner. The team has been absolutely torched by opposing quarterbacks and allowed 17 passing touchdowns over the course of four games heading into their Week 11 bye, leading the team to part ways with their defensive coordinator. We’ve seen several instances this season of both struggling teams putting forth an inspired performance coming out of the bye and a coaching change leading to inspired play. Could the Saints be the latest to benefit from these factors? This pick is not for the faint of heart. For a single lineup, it’s probably too much of a risk. But for those employing multiple lineups, the Saints defense could be an interesting GPP flier.
That’s a wrap for The Contrarian for Week 12. We have a solid list of under the radar plays to consider, plus several matchups and situations to monitor for potential diamonds in the rough. Remember, just a little uniqueness can be all it takes to help separate your lineups from the pack. Best of luck this weekend!