Few things are more frustrating in DFS than seeing that one player you swapped out go out and have himself a fantastic day. Typically it’s a player that you’re initially sold on, but you find that the conventional wisdom for the week isn’t coinciding with your thoughts on the player’s prospects for the week. Despite your intuition that he may go off, you go ahead and replace him with the safer choice.
The safer choice may perform as well, but it’s still going to gnaw at you anyway. That player that wasn’t appearing within conventional wisdom for the week will likely be owned at a lesser percentage. Nailing a player like that will make more of a difference for your standing on the leaderboard than the safer choices performance. If this scenario has happened to you once or twice before - or perhaps several times - it’s a good time for you to get a grasp on why it’s happening.
It’s tough to go against the grain, especially when you’re research reveals different results than what others have come up with. It’s easier to be wrong as a group than to be alone on an island with your decisions, and that can lead us to seek out safety when things seem a bit too risky. That’s true for plenty of situations in life, but it’s particularly applicable in DFS.
If you’ve conducted your normal research process, checked it twice, and are coming up with a hidden gem or two that’s on nobody’s radar, you need to go ahead and get that player in your lineup. Listen to your instincts. It’s quite possible you’re one of the few who have uncovered what you see, and you should take full advantage of your findings. To paraphrase a familiar saying from the investment world, ‘be greedy when others are fearful.’
If you’re having a hard time pulling the trigger on that player or two, that’s a fantastic time to put a second lineup in play - one with that hidden gem or two that only you have uncovered, and one without. After repeating that process a few times, you’ll be able to get a feel for when you’re instincts are on versus when they are off, and also whether or not you need that second lineup at all. It also covers you for those situations in which your instincts have proven to be misguided, which happens to every DFSer from time to time.
Let’s take a look at some of the hidden gems to keep on your radar for this week, starting with the quarterback position.
Drew Brees, $6,900
We typically wouldn’t look towards Brees for contrarian consideration when he’s playing at home, but this week provides a unique opportunity. He’ll still have his fair share of supporters, but it’ll be tempered in comparison to a normal week due to the matchup against the Seahawks. That leads our interest to be piqued, as we can snag one of the more productive quarterbacks in the game at lower than normal ownership percentages. Brees has played three home games so far, and his lowest output is 29.94 points per DraftKings scoring over that span. The Seahawks remain an imposing defensive matchup, but they did allow Matt Ryan to toss for 335 yards and three scores back in Week 6. Ryan’s output came up in Seattle to make it all the more impressive, but Brees will be playing in the friendly confines of home this week. We’ll look for Brees to provide a nice return and allow others to be scared off by the matchup.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, $6,200
Fitzpatrick has been dreadful this year, and it’s hard to envision him garnering much interest this week - even with a matchup against the Browns on the table. That leads us to a fantastic time to pounce, as the Browns are about the closest thing we’ll ever see to a slump buster. The Browns have surrendered 18 passing touchdowns - tied for tops in the league with the Lions - and have allowed no less than two scores through the air in any game this season. In fact, they’ve allowed three passing touchdowns in four of their games this season. Bottom line, Fitzpatrick simply has to produce this week, or he may find that the Jets will suddenly become inclined to expedite the development of Bryce Petty.
Trevor Siemian, $5,100
Siemian offers us a good chance to zig while everyone else is zagging, and he’s dirt cheap to boot. Devontae Booker will be manning the backfield for the Broncos, and the talented running back will have an ownership percentage that’s through the roof. He’s also super cheap - $3,700 - and he looks to be a fantastic play. Combine that with the fact that Siemian’s performance against this same Chargers club a few weeks back left a lot to be desired, and the Broncos passing game will be an afterthought this week. We’ll look for Siemian to take another step forward in his development while easily returning value on his low price for Week 8.
Ezekiel Elliott, $7,200
Elliott falls into a similar category as Brees this week. While he’ll have some supporters, it’ll likely be less than normal. There’s a similarly-priced option with a better matchup on paper in the form of Christine Michael, as well as several lower-priced players that look to be in fantastic spots. Add in the fact that the Eagles have been pretty strong defensively this season, and the enthusiasm on Elliott will likely be tempered. That presents us with an opportunity to take a closer look, and we like what we see. A player coming in off of a streak of four consecutive games with 130+ rushing yards is nothing to sneeze at, and we’ll continue to ride along until the wheels fall off.
Melvin Gordon, $5,700
Gordon’s another player with an imposing matchup on paper from a perception perspective, and the Broncos certainly fit the bill of teams that we typically want to avoid. That being said, there’s been a few chinks in the armor here and there, and a team that’s meeting up with them for the second time in a short time frame just may be able to expose a few more. Gordon still leaves a lot to be desired in the yards per carry department, but let’s be frank: the man’s a touchdown machine in 2016. He nearly surpassed the century mark against the Broncos in Week 6, and we’ll look for him to make that happen in Week 8 - with a trip to the end zone to boot.
Frank Gore, $4,700
There will be plenty of interest in the Chiefs running game for the matchup against the Colts, and rightfully so. The Colts have been pretty poor at stopping the run thus far this season, and there’s absolutely nothing to suggest that they have achieved a breakthrough in the past week. For the Colts part, they’re beginning to show some improvement offensively after a rough start to the season, and Gore is a key cog in the engine. He’s extremely affordable this week, and he makes for a nice pivot off of some of the week’s other affordable selections for a little differentiation.
Brandin Cooks, $7,300
If we’re looking towards Brees as a contrarian quarterback option, we’ll want to seriously consider stacking him up with one of his top options. That points us to Cooks, who’ll likely fly under the radar due to a pretty hefty price tag. In the Saints three home games this season, Cooks has gone ahead and blown up in two of them by delivering 30+ points - but he also laid an egg by delivering 3.9 points in the other. We’ll look for something closer to the former to happen in Week 8, but temper expectations due to the strength of the opponent. That being said, a return of 3x salary is not out of the question, and that can make a ton of difference when it comes from a player with a low ownership percentage.
Golden Tate, $5,100
After an incredibly challenging start to the season, Tate has come back to life over the past two weeks. He’s back to being a top option in the Lions offense, and he’s been on the receiving end of 22 targets over that time span. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has been playing quite well of late, and that’s coinciding nicely with the resurgence of Tate. The matchup with the Texans does not look terribly appealing on paper, so we can be pretty certain that Stafford and Tate will fly under the radar in Week 8. That leads us to a nice opportunity to bank some solid production at an affordable price while also setting our lineup apart from the pack.
Russell Shepard, $3,300
A funny thing happened on the Buccaneers way to finding a secondary passing option behind Mike Evans: Shepard came out of nowhere to haul in five of his six targets for 77 yards and a score against the 49ers. There’s no guarantee that we can capture lightning in a bottle at a low price two weeks in a row, but Jameis Winston certainly seemed awfully comfortable looking in Shepard’s direction last week. The Buccaneers have another solid matchup for the passing game on tap against the Raiders this week, and we’ll look towards Shepard for a little salary cap relief - and for him to be on the other end of the bulk of the targets not headed in the direction of Evans.
Gary Barnidge, $3,300
There’s no secret to the fact that the Browns are a challenged football team, but Barnidge still manages to chug along and deliver a decent return most weeks. While he’s likely not going to go out there and set the world on fire, he receives plenty of targets and a two-touchdown performance is not completely out of the question. Outside of Week 1, Barnidge has received at least five targets in each game this season. The Browns will likely be behind again this week against the Jets, and things are set up well for him to continue producing.
Charles Clay, $2,900
Clay was a disappointment last week against the Dolphins, but he could be in line for a sneaky bounce back performance against the Patriots. The Bills are responsible for the only blemish on the Patriots record thus far this season, and that points us to Brady and Co. keeping their foot on the gas pedal through four quarters. The Bills will simply have no choice but to air it out to keep pace, and Clay stands to benefit from that. He has a decent rapport with Tyrod Taylor when the team actually airs it out, and he can easily deliver a nice return with a long reception or two on top of his normal volume.
Antonio Gates, $2,700
While Hunter Henry is an emerging force in the Charges offense, there still remains a role for Gates, as evidenced by his 16 targets over the past two weeks. Gates is a tried and true target for Philip Rivers, and they’ve hooked up for two scores this season. He was held in check during the last meeting with the Broncos while Henry went ahead and had a solid game, but we’ll look for the opposite scenario to play out this week. Henry will attract more attention when the Chargers employ two tight end sets, and that could bode well for Gates in the red zone.
Dallas Cowboys, $3,000
On paper, this looks like another of those weeks where it makes sense to bite the bullet and pay up for defense. That leaves us to sort through the remainder to find the best plays that could help us stand out, and the Cowboys are the first of the three selections. While Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott receive a world of attention and point to a bright future in Dallas, the remainder of the team flies under the radar despite its strong play - including the defensive side of the ball. They’ve held four consecutive opponents to 17 points or less, but they could definitely benefit from more pressure and turnovers. We’ll look for that to happen as they come in off their bye week to face off with the Eagles.
Kansas City Chiefs, $2,800
This one is pretty simple: the Colts allow pressure, and the Chiefs can apply it. They also happen to employ the ball-hawking Marcus Peters in the defensive backfield, and it’s not hard to envision him adding to his interception totals against a club that can struggle on offense. The Chiefs are less than $3,000 and offer up a nice pivot option off of the week’s more expensive options, but there’s definitely some risk here due to the Colts improved play of late.
Detroit Lions, $2,500
The Lions present us with another opportunity to zag away from the masses, a good portion of which may take a look at the opposite sideline and snag the Texans defense in Week 8. They get the privilege of facing off against the struggling Brock Osweiler, and there’s a school of thought that thinks this may be the week that he finally breaks out for the first time since taking his talents to Texas. While that could certainly happen, it also wouldn’t shock us to see him implode further. We’ll bank on the latter at a low ownership percentage for some serious uniqueness in our lineups.
Thanks for reading The Contrarian for Week 8. 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.