Every week is a good week to employ a little contrarian thinking, but the opportunities provided by them on a weekly basis begin to increase from this point in the season. There are now three weeks in the books, and that will lead many to say goodbye to 2015’s stats as a part of their research routines. For the short 16-game NFL season, many DFSers view three weeks worth of stats as sufficient enough information to base their weekly research on.
There’s definitely some merit to that line of thinking, and I fall squarely in the camp of those that will rely on 2016’s stats as the foundation, and view last year’s stats as another tool that can still be accessed as needed. Since there’s only three weeks of data at this point, it’s pretty easy to get inside of the collective mind of the DFS community, and gain some insight on which way the winds are blowing.
For example, through three games, we know that the Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions are at the top of the list for average points allowed to opposing quarterbacks, while the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles have presented imposing matchups for signal callers. Flipping over to running backs, finding the New Orleans Saints on the docket points to a potential goldmine for opponents, while the Green Bay Packers have been pretty stingy.
Simply looking through those pieces of information for each position provides you with some valuable insight for your own lineups, and it also gives you some serious clues into what the crowd will be thinking about the week as a whole. Some of the pending matchups will look incredibly appealing - i.e. workhorse running back vs. poor run defense - and those players should quickly be noted for your short list for the week. There will also be some that look pretty good, but you’ll question whether or not there might be a lesser-owned option that can provide you with similar upside.
Those are the spots that a little contrarian thinking can make a world of difference to your bottom line at the end of the week. Let’s take a look at this week’s selections to keep on your radar, starting with the quarterback position.
Derek Carr, $6,700
There’s plenty of more expensive quarterbacks that will attract plenty of interest this week, as well as plenty at the lower end of the salary scale. In the middle we have selections like Derek Carr that may go unnoticed, but he’s someone we’ll want to consider for contrarian purposes. The Raiders face off with the Ravens this week, who have surrendered a pair of touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks over each of the last two weeks. At first glance, their overall pass defense looks pretty imposing, but that’s being somewhat inflated by keeping the yardage in check, and a strong performance in Week 1 against the Bills. We’ll look for Carr and the Raiders to have some success in the yardage department, and bring the streak of multiple touchdown games to three.
Carson Palmer, $6,300
Palmer is coming off of a dreadful performance in Week 3 against the Bills. Zero touchdowns and four interceptions is not quite what last week’s Palmer owners were signing up for, and you can bet that there’s many players who won’t even give him a second glance this week. That may be a wise decision, as something seems off with Palmer thus far this year. A trip home and a date with the Rams just may be the cure for what’s ailing him, and we'll look for a performance that’s closer in line with his output in the first two weeks of the season.
Cody Kessler, $5,000
There’s several quarterbacks on the lower end of the salary spectrum that look appealing this week, and that will be one of the factors that cause others to stay away from him. The other reason is that he didn’t exactly light the world on fire in his Week 3 debut, but we’ll look for him to settle in with a game under his belt. The Browns relied heavily on all-purpose weapon Terrelle Pryor last week, and while we can expect that to continue somewhat, we can also expect defenses to begin keying in on him. That could actually open things up for Kessler to do some more things with other targets, and we’ll look for him to easily return value against Washington.
Matt Forte, $6,600
The Jets have a tough matchup with the Seahawks this Sunday, but it may actually be a good time to glance in their direction. They are coming off of a brutal, turnover-filled loss to the Chiefs, so you can be certain that the club’s offense will not be receiving much love this week. As for the matchup, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is coming in banged up - if he in fact gives it a go - and the club is traveling east for a 1 pm kickoff. That could point to a tough club that’s ripe for the picking, and we’ll look for the Jets to feed the ball to Matt Forte even more than normal until Ryan Fitzpatrick gets his turnover problem under control.
C.J. Anderson, $6,500
After stellar performances in the first two week’s of the season, C.J. Anderson came back to earth last week against the Bengals. While the Bengals focussed on holding him in check, Trevor Siemian went ahead and threw for four scores, which confirmed that this Broncos squad is no one-trick pony. We can expect Siemian to have a boon in popularity this week, but interest should be middling in Anderson. That provides us with a great opportunity to pounce on a workhorse running back at a reasonable price, who also happens to be facing a Buccaneers squad that gave up a lot of points on the ground to the Rams last week.
Jordan Howard, $3,700
We’ll expect interest to increase in Jordan Howard the closer we get to game time, but it likely won’t be anywhere near what it should be at this price. He’s taken over the lead in the Bears backfield due to the injury to Jeremy Langford, and he provided a nice glimpse of his abilities in last week’s game against the Cowboys. A huge role in the Bears backfield of the future is there for the taking, and we’ll look for Howard to build off of his solid performance in Week 3. He comes in at a steal of a price to boot, and he should easily return the necessary value.
Kelvin Benjamin, $7,100
Kelvin Benjamin burned a lot of people last week. The ferocious defense of the Vikings held him completely in check, and only a single target sailed in his direction. It pays to have a very short memory in DFS, but many players do not subscribe to that theory. When burned a time or two, underperforming players tend to get placed on their naughty list. Those players are then viewed as having to earn their way back into their good graces. That can open up a fantastic opportunity to pounce on a normally highly-targeted receiver that will be facing a much more fantasy-friendly defense in the form of the Falcons.
Mike Wallace, $5,200
Mike Wallace is another player that let people down last week. After delivering a solid return in both Week 1 and 2, he delivered a dud against the Jaguars. We’ll look for him to bounce back in a big way this week against a Raiders club that has had its share of struggles against opposing wideouts thus far this year. While Wallace is clearly the third option in the Ravens passing attack, he remains a home run threat when the other options draw too much attention. One long one puts him on track for a very nice day in terms of value, while a second one could be a difference maker on the leaderboard.
Cole Beasley, $3,900
Similar to Jordan Howard, we’ll look for interest to increase in Cole Beasley the closer we get to game time. Dez Bryant looks to be iffy at best for this week’s game against the 49ers, and if he is in fact confirmed as out, Beasley looks awfully enticing at a bargain basement price. He’s been on the receiving end of 25 targets so far in 2016, and he’s hauled in 20 of them. For full PPR scoring on Draftkings, he can return a decent value on receptions alone. Beasley shapes up to be a steal at $3,900, and we’ll hope he flies under the radar for another week.
Jimmy Graham, $4,000
While it’s likely too early to say the Jimmy Graham is back altogether, he offered up a glimpse of his former self in Week 3 against the 49ers. While we mentioned that the Seahawks will be making the cross-country trek to face off against the Jets, that doesn’t mean we need to avoid them altogether. In fact, we can dig in and look for a sneaky play against a seemingly tough defense. The Jets have actually had some difficulties against tight ends this year, and we’ll look for Graham to provide another flashback to his glory days by finding the end zone.
Gary Barnidge, $3,600
The Cleveland Browns took the wraps off of a new toy last week by unleashing Terrelle Pryor, and the multi-purpose threat delivered a stellar performance. While we certainly don’t expect Pryor to be a one-week wonder, we can also safely say he won’t be sneaking up on anyone anytime soon. As we mentioned when discussing Cody Kessler, that opens up some options for other members of the Browns offensive attack. We’ll look for Kessler to lean heavily on Barnidge as he continues to get his legs underneath him.
Cameron Brate, $2,800
Contrarian thinking dictates that we consider seemingly outside the box selections, such as an offensive skill position player against one of the tougher defenses in the league. That’s the case for Cameron Brate this week, as his Buccaneers welcome the Broncos to town on Sunday. Brate received 10 targets in last week’s unexpected shootout against the Rams, and we’ll look for Jameis Winston to continue looking his way in a game that the Buccaneers will likely be coming from behind in.
New England Patriots, $3,300
We never do know exactly what we’re going to get when Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick are on opposing sidelines, but we can be fairly certain it’ll be entertaining. The two seem to bring out the best in each other - it’s just a matter of which of their squad’s decide to show up when they face off. For this week, both clubs are coming in off of impressive victories, but we’ll give the nod to Belichick and the Patriots to find away to take the wind out of the sails of Ryan and the Bills. We’ll also look for that to translate into a forced turnover or two - and some sacks.
New York Jets, $2,800
We’ve touched on the matchup between the Jets and Seahawks already, and this might be a good time to buy low on the Jets defense. Interest should be low in the squad for this week, but they’ll be facing off with a potentially hobbled quarterback that’s a long way from the friendly confines of Seattle. Combine that with a club that’s coming in off of an embarrassing loss that needs to make a statement in front of their home crowd, and we’ll look at the Jets as one of this week’s sneaky defensive plays.
Tennessee Titans, $2,400
This move is primarily about zigging while others are zagging, but there’s additional merit to selecting the Titans defense this week. While the majority of DFSers will see the game at the Texans on the schedule and circle the home squad as a potential defense to target for this week, we’ll look to the other sideline to shake things up - and save some money. The Texans are coming in off of an implosion on the road against the Patriots on national television, and that’s a loss that could leave a mark for awhile. The Titans have held all three of their opponents this year to less than 20 points, and we’ll look for them to make it four in a row - hopefully with a few sacks and turnovers thrown in.
Thanks for reading The Contrarian for Week 4. 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.