The Contrarian is back to help you find some potential diamonds in the rough to help round out your tournament lineups for Week 13. Before digging into this week’s selections, let’s take a look at some of the games that may fall off the radar for the masses and contain some of this week’s hidden gems.
Under The Radar Games Of The Week
Houston Texans @ Green Bay Packers
At first glance, this matchup only appears appealing on one side of the ledger. The Texans offense is simply not functioning very well, but a Packers team playing at home is typically a safe bet to put some points on the board. Add in the fact that there’s a chance of snow showers at game time, and we have ourselves a game that may fly under the radar for fantasy purposes. We become intrigued by this matchup off of that alone for contrarian purposes, but our interest level spikes when we take a closer look at things.
For starters, Aaron Rodgers is criminally underpriced this week at $6,700. Over his past six games, 26.12 points is his lowest output per DraftKings scoring. Assuming he reaches that number this week, that’s a return of 3.89x salary. We’ll sign up for that return all day, and Rodgers deserves some serious consideration for your lineups this week. A glance at the opponent may give some users a pause at first glance, as the Texans are regarded as a solid defense on paper.
However, a closer look at the numbers shows us that opposing quarterbacks have tossed eight touchdowns over the past three weeks, and the Texans suddenly don’t look so imposing. For stacking purposes, we can look towards Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams. Recency bias would point us to Adams off of his two-score outing in Week 12, but Nelson is always an intriguing option - plus he’s also super affordable this week at a price of $7,000.
On the Texans front, the passing game is simply not attractive for fantasy purposes at the moment. Brock Osweiler has not adapted well to his new surroundings, and that’s a downright shame for the fantasy output of both DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. Both wideouts are supremely talented and capable of going off if Osweiler happens to get it together for this one, but it’s a risky proposition.
Instead, we’ll look towards Lamar Miller for the bulk of the Texans offense. The Packers have struggled against the run of late, and the Texans could implement a run-heavy game plan after Osweiler’s three-INT debacle last week. A snowy game could point to that game plan being a reality as well, the only question is whether the Texans can keep it close enough for Miller to be a viable fantasy factor in Week 13.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ San Diego Chargers
This game falls just below the top matchups of the week on the projected total scale, but it has just as much of a chance of turning into a shootout as the others. We have two solid signal callers in Philip Rivers and Jameis Winston, fantasy friendly running backs in Melvin Gordon and Doug Martin, and viable passing game targets on both sidelines. Mike Evans is front and center on that list, and he’s coming in off of a two-touchdown effort against the Seahawks - his third multi-touchdown effort in 2016. He needs to be on your short list for consideration this week.
Things are a little murkier for the Chargers on the target front. Tyrell Williams leads the team in total targets by a wide margin, but he’s banged up this week. Monitor injury reports as we get closer, but we’ll consider him questionable at the moment. If he’s out of action, we can make a case for any of Travis Benjamin, Dontrelle Inman, Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry. The Buccaneers have had some struggles against opposing tight ends in recent weeks, but it’s been a coin flip of late as to whether Gates or Henry will be the more viable target.
Let’s take a look at this week’s top contrarian selections, starting at the quarterback position.
Kirk Cousins, $6,400. Cousins has tossed 10 touchdowns over his last four games, but he’s not receiving much love in fantasy circles this week. That’s because the Cardinals - despite their surprising struggles this season - remain pretty stingy against opposing signal callers. We won’t let that scare us off. There’s something to be said for catching an opponent at the right time. The Cardinals appear to be on a downward trajectory, while Cousins and company remain in good shape for a Wild Card berth. We’ll look for Cousins to continue with his hot play and easily pay off his low salary in Week 13.
Alex Smith, $5,400. If ever there was a game for Smith and the Chiefs to show signs of life on the fantasy output front, this would be that game. In short, while Smith is efficient and solid in his game manager role, he rarely produces anything memorable for fantasy purposes. That will lead many users away from him this week - despite this game’s high projected total and the Falcons struggles against opposing signal callers. The Chiefs may have no choice but to throw the ball in this one to keep pace, as Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense can quickly kick it into another level on their home turf. We’ll look to Smith for some nice upside in this one, but understand that there’s a risk that Andy Reid’s game plan for the week could throw a wrench into things.
Lamar Miller, $5,600. We touched on Miller earlier, and he makes the list as one the week’s more interesting contrarian options. The vertically challenged Texans would be wise to continue pounding the rock with Miller as much as possible, and we think that comes into play starting this week against the Packers. Despite their challenges at quarterback, the Texans remain in the driver’s seat for the division title. It’s time to accept the fact that Osweiler is a very expensive game manager and implement a game plan that positions him for success. That points to a run-heavy attack with a lot of short dump offs, and Miller will thrive if that comes to fruition.
Latavius Murray, $5,400. Since being assaulted by Jay Ajayi in Week 7, the Bills have completely turned it around on the run defense front. They’ve held opposing backs in check quite well since that point, but the Raiders running game has delivered some strong outings this season. Among the impressive outings was a Week 9 affair against the strong defense of the Broncos, when Murray found the end zone three times. We won’t look for him to do the same this week, but he’s in line to be a potentially sneaky option. Derek Carr banged his pinkie finger up pretty good last week. While he’s good to go for this week, the Raiders may reel back the passing game a tad, which leaves Murray to pick up the slack and produce.
Brandin Cooks, $6,400. After he delivered a bagel in Week 12, there’s many users that will swear off of Cooks for the foreseeable future. We won’t make that mistake. Cooks was not shy about his frustration with his lack of targets in Week 12, and we’ll look for the squeaky wheel to get plenty of grease this week. He’s normally a potent option on his home turf, and we’ll look at last week as an anomaly. This game has the highest projected total of the week, and Drew Brees has been pretty dialed in of late. We’ll look for him to share the wealth with Cooks this week in a big way.
Mohamed Sanu, $4,400. This is a slight zag from one of the flavors of the week, but Sanu makes a ton of sense for fantasy purposes in his own right. That flavor of the week would be Taylor Gabriel, who found the end zone twice last week. Let’s just say he won’t be sneaking up on any other teams anytime soon, especially one with a solid defense such as the Chiefs. Gabriel may get a little, but we’ll look for Sanu to get a lot this week. The Chiefs will have their hands full dealing with julio Jones, as well as ensuring they are not the latest team to be burned by Gabriel. That’ll open up some more targets for Sanu, who can make things happen with the ball in his hands.
Zach Ertz, $4,300. This is one of those perfect storm scenarios in which a player that receives a solid amount of targets is facing off against a team that struggles against his position - and the matchup will likely fly under the radar as the masses head to other attractive tight end options. Those other attractive options happen to be a lot more expensive than Ertz this week, but we’ll enjoy the savings and have the potential for similar upside. Ertz disappointed last week, but he delivered three consecutive outings of double-digit fantasy points right before that. We’ll look for him to get back on track against the Bengals in Week 13.
Eric Ebron, $3,900. Although he’s playing in the game with the highest projected total of the week, Ebron will also likely fly under the radar. There’s plenty of other attractive fantasy options from that tilt, and there’s also plenty of more popular tight end selections on the board. Add in the fact that he put up a goose egg against the Vikings on Thanksgiving, and the time is ripe to swoop in and grab Ebron at a low ownership percentage. Prior to last week, Ebron also had three solid games in a row. He’s another candidate to get back on track in a game that shapes up to be a shootout.
Chicago Bears, $3,300. This is a boom-bust option in the highest regard, but the boom could be pretty good if all goes well. Quite simply, the 49ers are not a good football team. They put forth a valiant effort last week against the Dolphins, but they ultimately came up short for their tenth consecutive loss. Close but no cigar can get old quickly in an NFL locker room, and it’s not too hard to see that being the case for the 49ers. While we don’t expect them to completely fold up the tent, Week 12 may have been as high as they’ll get from here on out. We’ll look for the Bears to take advantage of that fact, and also enjoy the upside that comes with a low ownership percentage.
Green Bay Packers, $2,900. Despite our interest in Miller for this week, there’s a risk that the Texans could implode altogether this week. That being the case, we’ll want to keep the Packers on our short list in Week 13. A team that’s struggling on offense and that has shown an inclination to hand the ball over to the other side always makes the opposing defense appealing - especially when the struggling team is heading to a hostile environment. If you’re sold on Miller, you’ll want to stay away from the Packers defense - but you’ll want to keep them on your short list if you’re not a believer in Miller’s prospects for Week 13.
Thanks for reading The Contrarian for Week 13. 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.