Contrarian thinking was pretty kind again in Week 2, as several of the week’s must-plays didn’t exactly pan out. An expected shootout between the New York Giants and New Orleans Saints failed to materialize, and several of the week’s more expensive wide receivers delivered underwhelming performances. Those two developments impacted things on the leaderboards substantially, as ownership levels were pretty high on both counts.
As we head into Week 3, we can start gleaning some more insight into the overall mood of the DFS community. In fact, that can be one of the more fascinating aspects of a weekly research routine. In addition to having a sense of where the masses will be lining up on the week’s top projected plays, it’s helpful to take a step back and look at the big picture from a strategy perspective.
Each week, ask yourself the following basic question about the overall DFS landscape: What’s the prevailing wisdom for the week in terms of building lineups?
For example, in Weeks 1 and 2, the answer to that question was to find a way to fit the stud receivers in your lineups. That worked out well for those that owned Antonio Brown or A.J. Green in Week 1, but not so well for those that paid the price for them in Week 2. Coincidentally, that ties into some of Week 3’s prevailing wisdom: the stud receivers aren’t worth it, fill your lineup with mid-range receivers that will easily achieve - and potentially exceed - value.
While that could prove to be sage advice when all's said and done, we always want to exercise caution when we’re hearing the same advice dispensed over and over again. It also points us to a nice opportunity to employ some contrarian thinking on that advice. If everyone is suggesting that’s the way to go, and a good portion of people take that advice, we might be able to take advantage of that by paying up while others pay down.
That’s interesting food for thought as we begin building our Week 3 lineups, but we also have plenty of other directions we can go from a contrarian perspective. Let’s dig into this week’s selections, starting with the quarterback position.
Matthew Stafford, $6,800. Quarterback is my favorite spot to zig while everyone else zags. Each week, we know that the quarterbacks from the projected high-scoring games will be highly-owned. We also know that signal callers with great matchups on paper will find plenty of support. That leaves us to sort through the remainder to find one of the week’s diamonds in the rough. Stafford fits the bill for this week. He’s off to a solid start, but he’s flying under the radar in comparison to some of the week’s other top signal callers. The Lions are a pretty big underdog for their road date with the Packers, and that points to a second half of Stafford filling the air with footballs.
Blake Bortles, $6,500. On the other end of the spectrum, Bortles is not off to the best start for 2016. The yards are there, but that’s mainly because the Jaguars have been down big in both of their games. The Jaguars were a preseason darling that has yet to gain traction, and it’s unclear if they’ll be able to right the ship. That’s led to waning interest in Bortles, but perhaps this is the week he begins to turn it around. Vegas projects the game with the Ravens to be close and relatively high scoring, and we’ll agree with that assessment. There’s points to be had in this game, and Bortles could be a low ownership way to gain some exposure to it.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, $5,900. Despite having a solid game last week under the spotlight of a prime time affair, Fitzpatrick will fly under the radar this week. The Jets have a tough road matchup against the Chiefs this week, and there are injury concerns surrounding Brandon Marshall. We’ll have to wait and see how things shake out on that front, but Fitzpatrick has an under the radar weapon at his disposal in the form of Quincy Enunwa to help cushion the blow. If we add in the potential of a game plan that calls for several short passes to Matt Forte - who’s off to a stellar start - the outlook becomes a little rosier.
Todd Gurley, $7,100. To say that the beginning of the 2016 season has been a disappointment for Gurley and the Rams offense would be an understatement. Gurley was expected to have a substantial breakout this season, but lackluster play at quarterback and the other skill positions has led to him being a focal point of opposing defenses. That will likely be a prevailing theme for 2016, but Gurley is far too talented to be held in check for the entire season. The breakout will come, and we’ll look for that to happen on a week when no one has him on the radar.
LeSean McCoy, $6,500. Things have not gone along swimmingly for the Bills to start the season. We’re just two weeks in, and the club has already decided to part ways with its offensive coordinator. While that’s a concerning sign that things could quickly spiral even further downward, it also presents a good opportunity for a back to the basics offense to help right the ship. That means a healthy amount of opportunities for McCoy, both on the ground and via the short passing game. The Cardinals are a tough opponent to hang with, and the Bills will need a stellar game from McCoy to have a fighting chance.
Frank Gore, $5,000. Gore represents an under the radar way to gain some exposure to the game between the Colts and Chargers, which projects to be one of the higher scoring matchups this week. We can safely expect healthy ownership percentages for the passing games of both teams, but the running games may fall slightly under the radar. On the Chargers side, interest in Melvin Gordon will increase as we get closer to game time, as the Colts have been dreadful against opposing running backs thus far in 2016. Additionally, there’s some question marks surrounding the Colts passing game with the injury to Donte Moncrief. That could lead to a few extra touches for Gore until Andrew Luck gets things in sync in the passing game.
Odell Beckham Jr., $9,100. As we mentioned earlier, prevailing wisdom for the week calls for saving some money at wide receiver for this week. That opens up a solid contrarian opportunity, and Beckham Jr. looks like the most intriguing option of the expensive wideouts. While Washington held the Cowboys passing attack in check in Week 2, they were torched for three touchdowns through the air by the Steelers in Week 1. Which wideout torched them the most, you ask? Fellow stud wideout Antonio Brown, to the tune of 11/126/2. No promises that Beckham Jr. delivers the same exact results - but it also isn’t out of the question.
Marvin Jones, $6,200. Since we’re high on Stafford as a contrarian selection at quarterback, we’ll want to look in the direction of his top targets to see if there’s any that make sense. Heading into the season, Golden Tate appeared to be the lead dog in the passing attack. Something seems off with Tate, and he’s off to a challenging start. On the other hand, his fellow starting wideout has been off to a solid start. Jones has been targeted 21 times thus far, and on sheer opportunity alone that puts him on the radar for DraftKings PPR scoring. He hasn’t found the end zone as of yet, but we’ll look for that streak to come to an end in Week 3.
Quincy Enunwa, $4,800. We briefly touched on Enunwa when discussing Fitzpatrick, and he’s a name to keep in mind for fantasy purposes - whether you roster him this week or not. He’s receiving plenty of opportunities behind Marshall and Decker in the Jets passing attack, and more importantly, he’s making things happen with the ball in his hands. We can be fairly certain that he’ll continue receiving opportunities based on his early production, and he may even find a few more targets headed in his direction with the concerns circling around Marshall. Enunwa is an affordable option to keep in mind for one of your wide receiver slots.
Jason Witten, $4,300. Witten falls into the realm of a contrarian selection for a pretty simple reason: his price. He doesn’t quite have the upside of the tight ends that are higher up on the salary scale, and there are plenty of value options for those looking to save money at the position. That leaves Witten sitting in the middle and under the radar for Week 3, and he also happens to have a decent matchup on the table against the Bears. Dak Prescott will continue to grow more comfortable in the Cowboys offense as we move into the fall, and he’s shown a nice rapport with Witten thus far. If Prescott has the breakout game that you just know is coming, Witten will be a big part of the proceedings. We’re intrigued by that coming to fruition under the primetime lights against the Bears.
Jared Cook, $2,900. Cook made his way into the contrarian selections for Week 1 and proceeded to let us down, but we’re going back to the well one more time. His price is just too appealing for a matchup against a Lions squad that has allowed four touchdowns to tight ends this season. Something looks off with the Packers passing attack thus far, and that could translate into them mixing things up a bit in Week 3. That could open up some more targets for Cook, and it won’t take much for him to deliver a healthy return on his meager salary.
Jack Doyle, $2,500. Through two games, Doyle has produced a line of 9/72/2. That’s pretty impressive for a player that was on nobody’s radar when it was time for season long drafts. The prevailing wisdom was that Dwayne Allen would have a much larger role in the passing attack with Coby Fleener out of the way, but that hasn’t come to fruition as of yet. In fact, it looks like the committee remains in place, just with a different player fulfilling the Fleener role. Doyle is an extremely cheap option that will free up a ton of salary for your lineups, and he could prove to be a factor in a potentially high scoring game to boot.
Carolina Panthers, $3,800. Behind quarterback, defense is my second favorite place to mix things up a bit. Finding the under-owned gem at the position for the week can make a world of difference if that team happens to go off defensively. While we can expect the Panthers to have a decent ownership percentage for the week, it will likely be down for them and the other expensive options. Another of the week’s prevailing thoughts is that the Miami Dolphins at $3,000 is a plug and play option against the Cleveland Browns. That could prove to be the case, but you’re not setting yourself apart from the pack by employing a defense whose ownership percentage is through the roof. We’ll look for the Panthers to force a turnover or two against a Vikings club that’s coming in off of a hard-fought Sunday Night victory.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, $3,100. Speaking of a turnover or two, that’s a good possibility anytime a club is facing off with the Rams. We outlined the struggles of the offense when discussing Gurley, and it’s safe to say they’re playing poorly enough that their opponent deserves consideration on a weekly basis. For this week, that points us to a Buccaneers squad that has a potential fantasy bonanza on the menu.
Note: Those sold on Gurley’s prospects will want to avoid rostering the Buccaneers defense and vice versa. Both selections have validity for contrarian purposes - just not on the same roster.
Dallas Cowboys, $2,500. Questions abound as to whether Jay Cutler will be able to suit up for the Sunday Night affair between the Cowboys and Bears or not. At this point, we’ll consider him highly questionable, and also assume he’ll be at less than full strength if he’s able to give it a go. That points us to the Cowboys as the most appealing of the cheap defenses for the week, The Cowboys have four sacks and two picks to their credit thus far, and if they can get a handle on points allowed, they can offer up a nice return. That shouldn’t be an issue against a Bears squad with a banged up signal caller.
Thanks for reading The Contrarian for Week 3. 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.