The Contrarian is back for Week 14 to help you find some of the week’s potential hidden gems at each position. Before we dig into this week’s selections, let’s take a look at some games and situations that may fall off the radar for the masses and contain some potential diamonds in the rough. We’ll begin our search with the games that project to be among the lower-scoring affairs for Week 14.
This Week’s Projected Low-Scoring Games
- San Francisco 49ers @ Cleveland Browns. Browns -1 ½, 41. The 49ers actually seem to be improving while the Browns look to be in disarray and have handed the keys to Johnny Manziel.
- Detroit Lions @ St. Louis Rams. Lions -2 ½, 41. A struggling Rams team welcomes a Lions team to town that just suffered a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of the Packers.
- Tennessee Titans @ New York Jets. Jets -7, 43. Two offenses that produced some nice output last week face off in an early afternoon tilt.
- Seattle Seahawks @ Baltimore Ravens. Seahawks -10, 42. The Seahawks are returning to form while the Ravens are hoping to finish the season without further injuries.
- Dallas Cowboys @ Green Bay Packers. Packers -7, 42 ½. This would’ve been a marquee matchup with a healthy Tony Romo at the helm.
For these five games, we’re looking for positive matchups that are flying under the radar and games that could develop into sneaky shootouts or mini-shootouts. On the matchup front, the 49ers could take advantage of a Browns defense that was just lit up for 37 points by the Bengals. While the 49ers offense will not be confused with the Bengals anytime soon, there are some potential hidden gems if we dig a little deeper, namely Blaine Gabbert and Shaun Draughn. For a potential mini-shootout, we mentioned the productivity of both the Titans and Jets offenses in Week 13. The Titans defense is very beatable for Ryan Fitzpatrick and his dynamic duo of Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, while the Jets defense can be burned despite being regarded as one of the league’s better units.
Matchups That Will Scare People Off
- Bengals vs. QBs. Few signal callers have produced solid output against the Bengals in 2015.
- Seahawks vs. RBs. Adrian Peterson was the latest top back that failed to produce against a stout Seahawks run defense.
- Chargers vs. WRs. The secondary has been a bright spot in an otherwise forgettable season in San Diego.
- Jets vs. TEs. The Jets have allowed only two touchdowns to opposing tight ends this season.
- Packers vs. DEF. The Packers have held all but one opposing defense to single digits in points this year.
There may be a few hidden gems in this collection of matchups. While the Seahawks are certainly an imposing matchup for the Ravens, Javorius Allen is receiving all the work he can handle and could be in line to pay off his salary of $5,300. The Chargers have done a solid job against opposing wideouts, but Jeremy Maclin has been on a nice roll over the past two weeks and could prove to be too much to handle. Finally, the Jets may hold Delanie Walker out of the end zone but the highly-targeted tight end can more than make up for that with receptions and yardage.
Last Week’s Disappointments
- CHI QB Jay Cutler. In a week filled with high-output performances at the quarterback position, Cutler was a laggard with only 202 yards and a pick to his credit.
- DAL RB Darren McFadden. McFadden did find the end zone on Monday Night but also lost two fumbles in an overall disappointing performance.
- OAK WR Amari Cooper. Four catches for 69 yards does not make for a stellar return on last week’s $6,900 salary.
- KC TE Travis Kelce. In fairness to Kelce, he was only targeted three times en route to his disappointing two catches for 42 yards.
- Patriots DEF. The Patriots were taken to the woodshed at home by the Eagles and not vice versa as widely expected.
The above players provide a few intriguing bounce back candidates, namely Cutler, Kelce and the Patriots. Cutler has tailed off over the past weeks after some strong play in the middle of the season, but a date with a Washington team that has allowed multiple passing touchdowns in eight of 12 games could be the remedy to fix that. Perhaps the Chiefs will send a few more targets in the direction of Kelce as they face off against a Chargers team that has had some difficulties with the tight end position. We can safely assume the Patriots will be properly motivated to bounce back after an uncharacteristic performance at home last week.
On to this week’s selections, we’ll find some players that could fit into the above categories and several more that required some more extensive digging. Some will reside on the risky end of the scale while others are simply solid plays that may be overlooked for Week 14. We begin our search for the week’s hidden gems with the quarterback position.
Tyrod Taylor, $5,400
While plenty of attention will be given to the much-anticipated return of LeSean McCoy to Philadelphia, Tyrod Taylor may fly under the radar – but perhaps he shouldn’t. He’s thrown for three touchdowns in each of his past two games and provided a greater than 5x return in both contests. Even though they pulled off an impressive win against the Patriots last week, the Eagles still allowed three passing touchdowns to bring their past three game total to 13. While many went into 2015 expecting a dominant defense out of the Bills (that has yet to materialize}, the offense has been a pleasant surprise. Taylor deserves plenty of credit for that fact and could be in line for another three touchdown outing against the Eagles.
Alex Smith, $5,100
Don’t look now, but the Chiefs offense may be catching up to the stellar play from the defensive side of the ball that initially sparked their turnaround. Over the past two weeks, Smith has five total touchdowns and has made full use of top target Jeremy Maclin. Smith has a well-deserved rep as an efficient game manager type of quarterback, but has quietly delivered greater than 4x value for two consecutive weeks. The Chiefs are a big favorite at home against the Chargers. Look for Smith to make it three solid games in a row and potentially push for 5x value.
T.J. Yeldon, $4,900
Yeldon has quietly put together a solid rookie campaign for the Jaguars and is averaging 14.1 points per game. He handily exceeded that total last week against the Titans as he contributed 136 combined yards and a score, good enough for 23.6 points – a 4.9x return on last week’s salary of $4,800. His price increased by $100 for this week’s date with the Colts, but the rookie could be well worth the investment again. The Colts have allowed opposing backs to produce some solid output in 2015 and could be ripe for the picking coming in off of last week’s shellacking at the hands of the Steelers. Keep Yeldon on your radar as a low cost and potentially lowly-owned back with upside for Week 14.
Shaun Draughn, $4,800
Since taking over lead back duties for the injured Carlos Hyde, Draughn has averaged a respectable 15.63 points per game. His finest outing came last week when he chipped in 86 combined yards and a score en route to 19.6 points. Something funny happened on the way to a train wreck of a season: the 49ers started playing some respectable football. We’ll look for that to continue this week when they face off with a Browns team that is heading in the opposite direction and for Draughn to have little trouble paying off his salary.
Jeremy Maclin, $5,500
We touched on Maclin briefly when discussing Alex Smith, but his play of late earns him his own spot on The Contrarian list for Week 14. Over the past two weeks, Maclin has been targeted 21 times and has converted that into 18 receptions for 255 yards and three scores. The Chiefs have absolutely rolled through their six-game winning streak and have seen their offense make some massive strides in the process. We’ll look for the strong play of Maclin and the Chiefs to continue in a home matchup with the reeling Chargers.
Dorial Green-Beckham, $3,700
Something strange has happened to a Jets defense that is generally regarded as one of the finer units in the league: they’ve been getting smoked by opposing wideouts on the regular of late. Over the past three weeks, the Jets have allowed six touchdowns to opposing wide receivers, some of which were of the long variety that are always a possibility with a player of Green-Beckham’s skillset. The rookie continues to earn a bigger role in the Titans passing attack and should see a bump in targets in the absence of Kendall Wright. Green-Beckham could be a sneaky good selection that delivers a solid return in Week 14.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, $2,700
Seferian-Jenkins was eased back into the Buccaneers offense in his first game back from injury last week. He was targeted only six times and hauled in three of them for 31 yards. We can expect his workload to increase going forward, potentially this week against a porous Saints defense that struggles against tight ends. The Saints have allowed 76 receptions for 1,016 yards and 10 touchdowns to opposing tight ends this season. Seferian-Jenkins has missed a ton of action in 2015 due to injury, but flashed his immense upside way back in Week 1 with five catches for 110 yards and two scores. No promises that he’ll match that this week, but it’s in the realm of possibility for a potential shootout this Sunday.
Will Tye, $2,800
The very under the radar Will Tye has quietly been targeted 25 times over the past four games, good enough for second on the team behind Odell Beckham Jr. He has not found the end zone over that stretch but has delivered three double-digit outings – solid production for a sub-$3,000 tight end. Tye has produced at least 70 yards in each of the past two games and should continue to see a steady stream of targets against the Dolphins in this week’s Monday Night affair.
Detroit Lions, $2,700
Fresh off their heartbreaking loss to the Packers, the Lions will travel to St. Louis to face off with a struggling Rams team that can’t make a firm decision on a starting quarterback and has allowed double digit points to opposing defenses in three of their last four games. There are several attractive defenses residing above $3,000 on the salary scale that will surely capture a ton of attention. The Lions present a solid contrarian option for a matchup against a team with some serious offensive issues.
San Francisco 49ers, $2,100
Speaking of teams with serious offensive issues, the 49ers get the privilege of facing another team in that category when they head to Cleveland to take on the Browns. The Browns have been held to less than 10 points in two of their last three games and have handed the keys back over to Johnny Manziel. As we mentioned when discussing Shaun Draughn, the 49ers have turned it around of late and make for an interesting contrarian selection at a bargain basement price.
That’s a wrap for The Contrarian for Week 14 and this week’s search for diamonds in the rough. Our search for this week has delivered us several high upside selections with stable floors that should fly under the radar for the masses and help separate our lineups from the pack. As we learned earlier this season, hitting on two or three contrarian selections mixed in with a core of reliable chalk selections can produce some stellar returns. Best of luck this weekend!