Nine weeks are in the books already, and the injuries are continuing to pile up across the NFL. Each week can start to resemble a jigsaw puzzle with mismatched pieces from this point out, but we can still stick to the tried and true principles that have brought us success to this point - like employing a little contrarian thinking. Before we get to this week’s top contrarian selections, let’s begin our quest by taking a look at some games and situations that aren’t receiving as much attention as they should be.
Under The Radar Game Of The Week
Miami Dolphins @ San Diego Chargers
This game is on the outside looking in comparison to some of the high-profile tilts on the docket, but there’s plenty of fantasy goodness to be found. The passing games for both teams are on the table, and stacks anchored by either Ryan Tannehill or Philip Rivers make a ton of sense for Week 10. On the Dolphins side of the ledger, Jarvis Landry is the obvious choice to pair up with Tannehill due to his team-leading 71 targets. We’ll need to keep an eye on the injury reports since he’s working through a shoulder injury, and we’ll bump DeVante Parker up a notch if Landry can’t go.
Things are even more foggy for the Chargers, as both Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams are banged up. We can look to Dontrelle Inman if either is unable to go, and look to Antonio Gates for strong consideration to fill our tight end spot. The running games for both teams are crystal clear. Jay Ajayi and Melvin Gordon need to be on your short list each and every week until they show signs of cooling off.
Other Games To Keep In Mind
Chicago Bears @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers. When poor teams match up, they sometimes won’t make a sound in the overall NFL landscape - but our antennae should perk up for fantasy purposes. They’re poor teams for a reason, namely because other teams continue to score points on them on the regular. Mike Evans and Jordan Howard are the most appealing choices from this matchup, but we’ll want to keep an eye on the status of Evans from here until game time. Other options include Zach Miller, Cameron Brate and Alshon Jeffery.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Carolina Panthers. At first glance, you may have some concerns that this will lean more towards a defensive tilt. The projected total of 44 points confirms those suspicions, but we can still pinpoint the weaknesses in both teams. Over the past three weeks, the Panthers have allowed eight touchdowns through the air, but zero on the ground. For the Chiefs, it’s seven touchdowns allowed in the air versus zero on the ground over the same time span. Based on that information, we’ll lean towards the passing games, but note that Spencer Ware and Jonathan Stewart are interesting contrarian choices. For the passing games, Kelvin Benjamin, Greg Olsen and Travis Kelce are the most appealing options, while some additional value could open up on the Chiefs side if Jeremy Maclin is in fact ruled out, with Tyreek Hill becoming more intriguing in that case.
Matchups You’ll Want To Take A Closer Look At
Cam Newton vs. Chiefs. The Panthers passing attack is worth mentioning again, as people tend to shy away from playing signal callers against the Chiefs. Add in the low projected total, and Newton should fly under the radar. That makes him pop up on ours, as does the recent success of opposing pass catchers in finding the end zone against the Chiefs.
Mark Ingram vs. Broncos. Don’t look now, but the vaunted Broncos defense just surrendered three rushing touchdowns to Latavius Murray. While that may have been an anomaly due to how the game against the Raiders played out, it’s still worth digging into. Combine that with the fact that Mark Ingram got his groove back against the 49ers, and we have ourselves an interesting matchup that the masses may shy away from.
Julian Edelman vs. Seahawks. The Seahawks are another defense that DFSers will typically shy away from. When we consider the fact that they’re traveling across country to face off against the Patriots, we may not want to be so hesitant. The Patriots will find a way to put points on the board, and if Robert Woods of the Bills can haul in 10 passes as he did last week, we like the chances of the Patriots top target to have a productive day.
Last Week’s Disappointments In Line To Bounce Back
Carson Wentz vs. Falcons. Wentz has cooled off considerably from the impressive start to his rookie campaign, but a matchup with the Falcons could be just the thing to get him back on track. The Falcons have allowed opposing quarterbacks to throw for at least three touchdowns on five occasions, and the prospect of Wentz making it six places him in consideration for Week 10.
Demaryius Thomas vs. Saints. Thomas had a nice opportunity on paper to produce last week against the Raiders, but that failed to come to fruition. He has another appealing matchup on the table against the Saints, and we’ll lean towards him finding some more success on the fast track in New Orleans. Quite simply, points will be scored in this affair, and we'll want some exposure.
Travis Kelce vs. Panthers. Kelce came back to earth in Week 9 after exploding the week before, and that led to plenty of frustrated DFSers. We’ll quickly put that behind us and look ahead to the matchup against the Panthers, which we already highlighted as an under the radar source of fantasy points. Kelce becomes even more appealing if Maclin is ruled out, but we like him to produce either way.
On to this week’s top contrarian selections, which may include some players that fit into the above categories, as well as some that required a little more extensive digging.
Drew Brees, $6,900. We missed the mark on Derek Carr facing off against the Broncos last week, but we’ll look for the veteran Brees to find more success against them on his home turf. Although the Broncos lost the game against the Raiders, they thoroughly cooled down Carr, who came into the game off of a sizzling performance the week before. Brees has thrown for multiple touchdowns in six of his eight appearances so far this season, and we like him to make it seven of nine when the final gun sounds on this matchup.
Jay Cutler, $5,300. Cutler looked decent in his return to the starting gig against the Vikings in Week 8, and he has a much easier task at hand in front of him this week. The Buccaneers have been torched by Derek Carr and Matt Ryan over their past two games, and Cutler should find himself some success. While lighting up the opposition and the Bears offense do not tend to go hand in hand, Cutler should be able to deliver more than enough production to pay off his low salary.
Jordan Howard, $6,000. Howard exploded in his last outing against the Vikings, but a bye week and a week filled with appealing options should lead him to fly under the radar. We view that as a mistake, and one that we’ll avoid making. In addition to being defensively challenged against the pass, the Buccaneers can be had on the ground as well. While Howard’s price has risen substantially since Week 8, it’s not enough to offset his upside in this one.
Kapri Bibbs, $4,000. This is a boom-bust option, but we all saw the boom potential with his 69-yard catch and run against the Raiders last week. Bibbs is in line to see a bump in workload due to the struggles of teammate Devontae Booker, and he should have a productive day against a sieve-like Saints rushing defense if that comes to fruition. The committee situation makes us nervous, but Bibbs is a fine selection for the multi-lineup crowd.
Jarvis Landry, $7,200. Landry has a solid floor on a weekly basis due to the sheer number of targets that typically head in his direction, but he hasn’t exactly had a nose for the end zone. He’s been targeted a whopping 71 times, but he has remarkably only crossed the goalline once. The Chargers have been somewhat stingy against opposing wideouts in terms of keeping them out of the end zone, but we like this game to turn into a shootout in the late afternoon window on Sunday.
Julian Edelman, $6,000. The Patriots will score points against the Seahawks, whether it’s through the air or on the ground. We’ll lean towards a first half of points through the air, complemented by some ground and pound after halftime. For the airshow portion, Edelman’s a great way to get a piece of it at an affordable price. He’s receiving plenty of targets, but he hasn’t had a monstrously productive game since Tom Brady returned. Like Landry, he needs to find the end zone more, and we’ll see if he can get the ball rolling on that front in Week 10.
Jason Witten, $4,000. The veteran tight end has found the end zone in consecutive weeks, and we’ll look for him to make it three in a row against the Steelers. It’s becoming quite clear that he’s a safety blanket option for Dak Prescott. The chemistry between the duo first emerged in the preseason, and it’s consistently grown from that point. Witten may have the off week here and there, but Prescott will quickly look his way when the offense needs to settle in a bit. While he may not have an incredibly high ceiling, we like Witten’s chances to deliver a nice return this week.
Zach Miller, $3,600. Miller is the third member of the Bears to make our list of contrarian options, so it’s safe to say we like this matchup against the Buccaneers. He’s seeing more than his fair share of targets on a weekly basis, and he’s facing off against a club that has allowed opposing tight ends to find the end zone three times over the last two games. Miller offers up an outside chance at a multi-touchdown game at a bargain basement price, and he belongs on your short list of tight ends in Week 10.
Washington Redskins, $3,000. A funny thing happened along the Vikings early season march to the NFC North crown: they started playing some bad football, and they’ve dropped three straight games. That’s a pretty surprising reversal of fortune for a club that opened up at 5-0, and the offense seems seriously out of sync. That’s a recipe for turnovers, and we like the potential for Washington to capitalize on it. There’s plenty of slightly more expensive defenses that the masses will be attracted to, so we’ll look outside the box and save some money in the process.
New York Jets, $2,800. It’s been a challenging season for both the Jets and Rams, and we could easily make a case for rostering both squads defenses. Neither of the clubs can be considered strangers to turning the football over, and that points to upside for both sides. In fact, there’s a very real possibility that we see scores from both units. We’ll lean towards the Jets due to the potential upside of playing at home, and consider them the most attractive option of the under $3,000 defenses this week.
Thanks for reading The Contrarian for Week 10. Enjoy the games this weekend, and best of luck with your lineups. Feel free to hit me up anytime on Twitter - @cm_feery - or email - firstname.lastname@example.org - with questions or comments.