One question that continually pops up from a contrarian perspective - as well as a GPP perspective in general - is this one: How many lineups should I be running with on a weekly basis? Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast answer to this one, and the answer falls into the always frustrating category of ‘it depends.’
The easiest way to gain some clarity on this is to determine what kind of player you are to begin with, and where you’re ultimate comfort level lies. If you’re currently a single-entry player that wants to start playing more lineups, you should be prepared for a learning curve. Conversely, if you’ve been playing a bunch of lineups and not finding much success, it may be time to dial things back and see if you can zero in on your picks instead of trying to cover every base.
The key is to find the sweet spot of what works for you. While some thrive with a bunch of lineups and couldn’t imagine playing any other way, others struggle to implement a successful strategy for this style of play. Those same multi-lineup legends may find that they can’t build a single-entry lineup to save their lives, and they hesitate to dial back their number of lineups as a result.
One of the beautiful things about DFS is that there are plenty of strategies that you can implement, and you’re not forever locked into one style. In fact, you can continue with the style that works for you while experimenting with the other. Single-entry players can find a GPP of their liking to use for a multi-lineup approach, while allocating the rest of your time and investment to the style you’re accustomed to. For the multi-lineup crowd, find an appealing single-entry GPP, and work towards mastery on that style while continuing your core style of play.
By trying either approach, you’ll realize over the course of a few weeks - and without seriously rocking the boat on your whole strategy - what works best for you. Single-entry players may find that they can’t stand the tedium of dealing with multiple lineups, while the multi-entry guys may discover that spreading their eggs out as they have been is what works best for them. Alternatively, you may find that you’re knocking it out of the park with your new style, and it may be time to consider making that your go-to strategy.
For my personal approach, I’ve worked through both styles of play at different times. I’ve found that I’m not particularly crazy about working with a bunch of lineups, and I find zero reason to force it. I fall more along the lines of a hybrid-type player, and I’ll rarely play more than two or three lineups per game slate. I’ve also found that working with only one or two lineups has improved my decision making immensely, as I tended to try to cover way too many bases when rolling with multiple lineups.
While that approach works for me, it may be vastly different for you. The key is to find your own comfort level, and you can quickly find that by working through the steps above. Let’s take a look at this week’s contrarian selections to keep on your radar, starting with the quarterback position.
Matthew Stafford, $6,400
Stafford has delivered several nice fantasy performances in 2016, but he continues to fly under the radar. That should be the case again in Week 7, and we can look his way for both upside and salary relief. The game between Washington and Detroit features one of the higher projected totals of the week, but it’s simply not getting as much love from a DFS perspective in comparison to the chalkier matchups. Stafford has thrown seven touchdowns over the past two games, but he’s facing off with a club that’s been a little stingy against opposing signal callers recently. That may cause even more people to look past Stafford this week, but we’ll pounce and look for a bit of a shootout when these two clubs hook up on Sunday.
Marcus Mariota, $6,000
Don’t look now, but Mariota may be coming into his own as a pro. He’s responsible for eight total touchdowns over the past two games, and his confidence is starting to peak. Coincidentally, the Titans are riding a two-game winning streak, and they’ll welcome a struggling Colts team to town this week. If we looked at this game on the schedule in the preseason, few would have expected that the Titans would be favored for this tilt. However, that’s the situation at hand and another sign that the AFC South is pretty tough to get a read on in 2016. The Colts have allowed a pair of touchdowns to opposing signal callers for three consecutive weeks, and we’ll look for Mariota to help extend it to four - and possibly add another on the ground against a porous run defense.
Geno Smith, $5,000
Based on the current state of the Jets, Smith is about as contrarian as you can get, but that’s not the reason we’re looking his way. He’s taken the reins for for the offensively-challenged club from the struggling Ryan Fitzpatrick, and the hope is that he’ll be a bit of a spark to help get them going. That may not be completely out of the question, as Smith has been chomping at the bit to get back on the field. His career in New York is likely over after this season, but he has a tremendous opportunity in front of him to bolster his prospects for next year. The Ravens proved to be the right elixir to cure what was ailing Eli Manning and the Giants passing attack last week, and perhaps they’ll do the same for the team they share a stadium with.
Spencer Ware, $5,800
While Ware has a fantastic individual matchup on the docket with the Saints rushing defense coming to town, workload questions will likely lead many to be hesitant to pull the trigger. We won’t make that mistake. Even if this week turned out to be a 50-50 split between Ware and Jamaal Charles, he can still produce more than enough against the Saints on the ground. The Saints have allowed 10 touchdowns to opposing backs this season, and it’s not hard to envision a strong running team such as the Chiefs adding to that total. Ware may not get all of the touches this week, but the upside remains firmly in place.
Giovani Bernard, $4,800
The Bengals have the privilege of welcoming the Browns to town this week, and it’s pretty safe to say that they’ll score their fair share of points. That will point many DFSers to insert Andy Dalton and A.J. Green into their lineups, but the Bengals running game should fly under the radar. The RBBC between Bernard and Jeremy Hill has not been very fruitful thus far, but Bernard has clearly been the more productive of the two. Either way, we’ll look for the Bengals to build a lead and shift to ground and pound, and that points to a productive second half for Bernard.
Mike Davis, $3,000
We’ll have to keep an eye on the news as game time approaches, but Davis could be in line for a healthy workload against the Buccaneers. He hasn’t been involved much at all in the 49ers offense this season, but there could be some nice upside here if he’s officially given the starting nod. Even if the final reports point to a committee situation while Carlos Hyde is out of action, it doesn’t take a whole lot of production to deliver a decent return on minimum salary. We’ll keep this one in our back pockets until we have some more clarity, but if Davis appears like he’ll be the man in the backfield this week, we won’t hesitate to pounce.
Brandon Marshall, $7,600
At Geno Smith’s low salary, we can build a lineup chock full of studs without too much of an issue. For even more upside in the event he produces quite well, we can look to pair him up with the top target in the Jets passing game. Marshall tailed off on the target front during last wek’s shellacking at the hands of the Cardinals, but prior to that he was riding a three-game streak of double-digit targets. We’ll look for him to return to that level this week against the Ravens, and also look for him to find the end zone against a club that has allowed 12 touchdowns to opposing wideouts this season.
Larry Fitzgerald, $7,100
There are some defensive matchups that are automatically bypassed by the collective DFS community, and the Seahawks fall into that category. Some teams simply do not fill the head with visions of productivity for their opponents, and the Seahawks definitely check off that box. While it’s unlikely that Fitzgerald will go ahead and explode and deliver a monster game for the ages, he will also not be completely shut down. That’s a common oversight that’s made when a tough defensive matchup is afoot, but we saw firsthand last week in the late afternoon window that a passing attack can produce against the same squad. Julio Jones managed to post a line of 7/139/1 last week when not many were looking in his direction, and we’ll look for Fitzgerald to produce in the same spot this Sunday.
Allen Hurns, $5,000
The matchup between the Jaguars and Raiders is capturing a bunch of attention for fantasy purposes, and it looks like it could be one of the week’s more fruitful matchups. We can expect to see Blake Bortles and Allen Robinson stacks aplenty, but we’ll zag slightly and look towards the Jaguars second option in the passing attack. Hurns actually has more yardage than Robinson on four fewer catches, and he’s broken six plays of 20+ yards this season. We’ll look for another long reception or two this week, and hopefully one of them will end with Hurns crossing the goal line.
Delanie Walker, $4,900
This play serves two purposes: we’ll take advantage of recency bias, and also assume that Walker will head back towards his normal target volume in Week 7. Walker burned a lot of players last week, as his matchup against the Browns absolutely screamed must-play. That didn’t work out too well, as he hauled in exactly one of his two targets for a 21-yard gain. It’s tough to go back to the well after getting burned, but it’s hard to see Kendall Wright getting nine targets again while the rest of the Titans fight for scraps. We’ll look for Walker to be involved early and often against the Colts, and smile to ourselves while others bemoan the fact that his production is coming a week too late for them.
Cameron Brate, $2,900
The Buccaneers have an appealing matchup on the table when they head out west to face off against the 49ers, and we can expect several key players within their offense to be popular targets. Similar to Hurns, we’ll gain exposure to this game through an unconventional approach, but it’s not just for the sake of being different. Brate is receiving his fair share of targets, and he has a two-touchdown game to his credit this season. No promises he pulls that trick off again this week, but sneaking in for one would go a long way towards providing a nice return on his low salary.
Jack Doyle, $2,500
This is another injury situation we’ll have to keep an eye on, but we’ll swoop in and scoop up Doyle if Dwayne Allen is confirmed out this week. Doyle has done a solid job thus far this season, and a season line of 20/204/3 for a player that was on nobody’s radar in the preseason is nothing to sneeze at. He’s minimum-priced, productive when given the opportunity, and in line to see a bump in targets if Allen’s out. We’re sold on Doyle if the news breaks in his direction, and we’ll use the salary savings to beef up elsewhere.
Philadelphia Eagles, $3,100
When a club scores a pair of DST touchdowns in a given week, they’ll generally be on the collective radar the following week. While that may be the case for the Eagles, we’ll bank on the majority of players pinning their defensive hopes on the opposing sidelines. We can expect the Vikings defense to be highly-owned due to the units stellar play thus far, and that could let us sneak in and grab a unit with upside at a lower than normal ownership percentage.
Arizona Cardinals, $3,000
The choice for defense this week looks pretty clear-cut: you can either pay up for an elite unit, or save some coin and select a Patriots squad that will be facing off with a backup quarterback. That will lead to plenty of defenses to fly under the radar, and we should be on the lookout for units with upside that fall in the tepid interest pile. The Cardinals have back-to-back double-digit performances to their credit, and perhaps they can offer up some upside against a Seahawks club that’s coming in off of an extremely hard-fought victory over the Falcons.
Tennessee Titans, $2,500
There was a time when we wouldn’t consider playing a defense against Andrew Luck and the Colts, but that time is on hold for the foreseeable future. We already discussed the struggles of the club thus far this season, and a good portion of those struggles can be tied back to challenges along the offensive line. Quite simply, the Colts are giving up sacks, and the Titans just so happen to be administering them. In fact, the Titans have six sacks in each of the last two games, and extending the streak to three is not out of the question.
Thanks for reading The Contrarian for Week 7. 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.