The Contrarian is back to help you find some potential diamonds in the rough to help round out your tournament lineups for Week 14. 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
Denver @ Tennessee
There’s several games that are projected to be higher-scoring than this matchup, and that will lead many users to look past it when it’s time to finalize their rosters. We take a look at each and every game to determine its fantasy worthiness, and we like what we see in a couple of the players in this tilt. While the Broncos remain a strong defensive unit on an overall basis, the majority of the strength has come against the pass.
Teams can run against the Broncos, and that places DeMarco Murray on our radar for Week 14. We’ll temper our enthusiasm on Marcus Mariota, but we’ll still be mindful of the damage he can do with his legs. Outside of an outlier performance against Travis Kelce in Week 12, the Broncos have shut down opposing tight ends pretty well in 2016. That discourages us from rostering Delanie Walker, but it opens our eyes to other Titans pass catchers. While we’re not expecting a lights-out day from Mariota, there will still be yardage gained and passes caught, and we’ll look for Rishard Matthews to continue his strong recent play in spite of the tough matchup.
On the Broncos side of the ledger, the Titans have had some problems against opposing signal callers of late. The only problem is that the Broncos have not been the beneficiaries of strong play from the position this season, and there’s no evidence that will be turning around as the season comes to a close. There’s also questions as to whether it will be Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch behind center, but neither one inspires confidence from a fantasy perspective. That being said, the Broncos will produce something through the air, and there’s some nice value to be had.
Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are both reasonably priced this week, and they both deserve consideration as under the radar GPP plays. The running game is a different story. Devontae Booker has not lived up to expectations just yet, and there’s a good chance we’ll be seeing a committee type situation for at least this week. That screams out the words “stay away” to us, and we’ll look elsewhere for running backs in Week 14.
Washington @ Philadelphia
This is another tilt that will fly slightly under the radar in comparison to some of the week’s more high profile matchups, but there’s some good spots that we can target. Kirk Cousins had a tough matchup against the Cardinals last week, but he still managed to deliver 18.84 points on DraftKings. While that’s a substantial cooldown from his two previous starts that delivered 30+ points, it’s nonetheless a solid day against a club that remains solid defensively against the pass.
The Eagles have been torched by Aaron Rodgers and Andy Dalton in successive weeks, as both quarterbacks threw for 300+ yards and two scores. We’ll look for Cousins to head back above the 20-point threshold in Week 14, and we’ll keep firmly on our short list for quarterbacks this week. Rob Kelley is an interesting salary saver option at running back, but we’ll hold back our enthusiasm as the Eagles have been pretty solid against opposing backs.
On the pass catcher front, we’ll have to wait and see if Jordan Reed is able to suit up for this one. If he gives it a go, he’s a slightly risky option die to the possibility of reaggravating his banged-up shoulder. If Reed’s out, that opens up some nice value for Vernon Davis, and also heightens our interest in Jamison Crowder, DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. Crowder’s been the most consistent of late, but Jackson brings plenty of big play potential to the table - and he has the narrative of facing off against his former club going for him.
For the Eagles, things are pretty cut and dry. Carson Wentz is not consistent enough to warrant serious consideration, but there will still be production to be had for Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz. The remainder of the Eagles pass catchers are too unreliable to be counted on, as anyone that hopped on the Eagles wide receiver value train in Week 13 will attest. As for the running game, this is another situation that’s screaming committee, and that’s not an appealing proposition for DFS purposes.
Let’s take a look at this week’s top contrarian selections, starting at the quarterback position.
Carson Palmer, $5,700. The Cardinals have not been the team that many thought they would be in 2016, and the same can be said for the quarterback play of Palmer. He’s been a disappointment for fantasy purposes more weeks than not, but he has delivered four outings of 20+ fantasy points - including last week against Washington. Despite traveling out east for an early afternoon affair, he’s in a good spot to make it happen for a second week in a row. The Dolphins have been torched by opposing quarterbacks in three of their last four games, and the three that found success combined for 10 touchdown passes. Palmer has tossed seven himself over his past three games, and we’ll look for him to add a couple of more against the Dolphins.
Eli Manning, $5,500. Manning can be the very definition of hit or miss, but we’ll look for the big game version of the veteran quarterback to show up for a huge game against the Cowboys. He’s riding a five-game streak with multiple touchdown throws, but he’s also thrown a pair of picks in three of them. That clearly fits in with his boom-bust narrative, and that’s exactly the kind of play we’ll consider him for Week 14. However, the boom could be quite good if all breaks correctly. The Cowboys have allowed their fair share of big games to opposing quarterbacks in 2016, including one against Manning way back in Week 1. Manning’s an upside play that will make most of the masses nervous, and that places him on our radar as a fine GPP selection.
DeMarco Murray, $7,000. We touched on Murray earlier, and we’re pretty high on the possibility of him producing a nice return against the Broncos. The Titans entered the season by introducing the phrase exotic smash mouth into the football lexicon, and Murray has taken to that offensive mindset very well. He’s undergone a resurgence in Tennessee, and he’s been a consistent performer for fantasy purposes. We’ll look for Murray to hit the ground running against the Broncos after a much-needed Week 13 bye.
Carlos Hyde, $4,900. This is one of those situations where we’ll zag slightly while everyone else zigs. The 49ers are atrocious against the run, and that will lead many to pin their hopes on Jets running back Matt Forte. That may prove to be a fruitful choice, but we’ll pivot away from the masses and look towards the opposing sideline. The Jets remain relatively strong against the run in spite of their abomination of a season, but the fact remains that they have all but shut the lights on 2016. They were absolutely dominated by the Colts on Monday Night, and it’s unlikely a long trip to West Coast will be the thing to turn it around for them. We’ll look for Hyde to do some damage against this tired squad.
Brandon Marshall, $7,000. When two poor clubs meet, the chances for big plays tends to rise. That’s what we have on the table when the 49ers and the Jets hook up, and we’ll see if we can nail down some of the fantasy goodness by selecting Marshall. The Jets have handed the reins over to Bryce Petty for the remainder of the season, and it’s about time to see if the prolific college passer can make it at the pro level. While the Jets as a whole are slightly deflated, we’ll look for Petty to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for his big opportunity. Petty didn’t look the part in relief against the Colts last week, but we’ll see what he can do with a full week of prep under his belt. In order for him to be successful, we’ll look for him to lean heavily on the club’s top wideout, and Marshall could be a sneaky source of production in Week 14.
Emmanuel Sanders, $5,700. While the Broncos passing attack remains limited, Sanders continues to see a boatload of targets sail in his direction. Sanders has seen double digits in targets in six of his last seven games, and he can rack up the points in a hurry on DraftKings full PPR scoring. Actually racking up the points has proven to be challenging through the air for the Broncos this season, but a Titans defense that has been kind to opposing quarterbacks could lead to it not being as challenging as normal. Sanders is one of the more appealing options of the sub-$6,000 group of wide receivers this week, and he makes for an interesting outside the box selection.
Vernon Davis, $3,500. This one hinges on the health of Jordan Reed, but Davis steps up as a nice contrarian value play in his absence. He’s been targeted 13 times over the past two weeks and hauled in 10 of them, and the larger workload has agreed with him overall. Davis has only found the end zone twice this season, but that total could increase this week against an Eagles club that has allowed two touchdowns to opposing tight ends over the past three weeks. In short, keep an eye on the injury reports. If Reed is out, keep Davis on your radar if you’re looking to save some coin at tight end.
Gary Barnidge, $3,300. After coming out of nowhere to become a viable fantasy asset in 2015, Barnidge has fallen off the map this season. That’s directly attributable to the fact that the Browns are awful, but perhaps we’ll see some signs of life as the season comes to a close. The Browns joined the Titans as the beneficiary of a late season bye last week, and they enter Week 14 with a change at quarterback. Robert Griffin III is set to lead the way for the remainder of the season. We’ll have some faith that Griffin shakes the rust off quickly, and look for him to lean heavily on Barnidge and Terrelle Pryor. Barnidge is not a pick for the faint of heart, but some production reminiscent of his 2015 output can help set your lineup apart from the pack.
Atlanta Falcons, $3,100. The Falcons are typically not front and center in the collective mindset when it comes to selecting a defense for fantasy purposes, and we’ll look for that trend to continue in Week 14. While the masses pass them by, we’ll add them to our short list and take a closer look as they’re facing off against an offensively-challenged squad in the form of the Rams. The Rams are in the midst of a three-game losing streak in which it seems as if they can’t get out of their own way, and placing points on the board has not been a strength this season. Add in the fact that they’ve handed the keys to a rookie signal caller that can implode in an instant, and we like the Falcons chances of producing this week.
Indianapolis Colts, $2,600. The Colts are another team that will not typically jump out at you when on the hunt for defenses, but they get the privilege of welcoming Brock Osweiler and the Texans to town this week. Osweiler was much improved last week against the Packers, but the floodgates can open on the turnover front in an instant. The Colts had a little pep in their step while they were in the midst of manhandling the Jets last week, and we’ll look for that to carry over into this week’s tilt, which just so happens to have some major implications for the playoff prospects of both clubs. We’ll look for the Colts to come out on top, and see if they can deliver double digits in fantasy points on defense for the second consecutive week.
Thanks for reading The Contrarian for Week 14. 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 - email@example.com - with questions or comments.