Each week, one of the first steps for a large amount of DFSers is to check out the lines from Vegas for the upcoming week’s games. Using the lines as a guide, we try to get an early feel for how the games will play out and which players may benefit if the games go according to script. Sometimes things go according to plan and projected top producers end up delivering. Other times, we have players that seemingly come out of nowhere to reside among the weekly leaders.
Last week provided a few good examples and one game hit both of these notes. The Saints were an 8-point favorite for their home matchup with the Titans. A projected total of 47 ½ points pointed to a relatively high-scoring game with the Saints doing most of the damage. Drew Brees looked to be a great play and he delivered to the tune of 35.8 points.
Heading into the game, the general consensus was that the Titans may produce some garbage time points but probably not produce anything worth writing home about for DFS purposes. That turned out to be incorrect as Marcus Mariota and Delanie Walker delivered two of the top performances of the week by scoring 36.34 and 30.5 points respectively in the Titans upset victory over the Saints - and would have made outstanding contrarian selections.
Not everything goes according to plan in the world of DFS. If it did, we would see the top of the leader boards littered with a tremendous amount of chalk plays. While chalk certainly has a place in each lineup, we’ve established that a little uniqueness can be just the ticket to help your lineups rise up the ranks. The top lineups have a solid mix of chalk and under the radar plays and find just the right balance from both categories.
Looking ahead to this week, we have several games that project to be pretty high-scoring. At the top of the list, we have the game between the Patriots and Giants with a projected total of 54 ½ points, followed by the game between the Saints and Washington at 50 points. Both of these games will attract a ton of attention, especially for the two marquee signal callers – Tom Brady and Drew Brees. But would we be better served by looking to the other sideline for both of these games? Read on to find out as we go position-by-position to find some contrarian plays for this week.
Eli Manning, $6,700
We can expect Tom Brady to garner a ton of attention for this matchup. He’s been playing lights-out – despite a small dip last week – and seems like a man on a mission. Add in a little extra motivation in the form of facing the team that has directly impacted his jewelry collection and we could have a recipe for a huge day for Brady – but he may not be the only signal caller with stellar stats from this matchup.
Eli Manning has thrown for eight touchdowns over the past two weeks and is averaging 19.3 points per game. The Patriots have allowed multiple touchdown passes in four games this season and three 300-yard passers. For a game with a projected total of 54 ½ points in which the Patriots are favored by seven points, we can expect Manning to be airing it out a bit as the Giants try to come back. Add in the fact that we can have Manning for $1,900 less than Brady and we may want to look to the home quarterback with two rings – courtesy of the Patriots.
Kirk Cousins, $5,200
While others flock to Brees for a projected points fest in the nation’s capital, consider the game’s other starting quarterback at a substantial discount. The Saints have allowed multiple passing touchdowns in five consecutive games – 13 over the past three – and show no signs of solving their defensive deficiencies. Cousins and the Washington offense do not inspire a ton of confidence, but they have a chance to produce some fine output this week.
DeMarco Murray, $6,200
Don’t look now but Murray may finally be fitting into the Eagles offense. He has scored 24+ points in three of his last four games and even found the end zone three times over that span. After a stellar start to the Dan Campbell experience down in Miami, the Dolphins have come back to earth. Just last week, they allowed 222 rushing yards and three scores to the Bills. DFSers that were burned several times in the early part of the season may have a hard time coming back, but Murray makes for a great investment this week at a reasonable price.
James Starks, $4,900
The Packers have finally acknowledged that Starks is the lead back in Green Bay as Eddie Lacy continues to struggle. Based on the eye test, they have made a fine choice as Starks has looked explosive at times while Lacy has looked sluggish. It will be interesting to see what he can do with an increased workload and how much larger it will be, especially against a struggling Lions team. Starks looks to be one of the top value plays at running back this week.
Kamar Aiken, $4,500
Aiken becomes the WR1 by default in Baltimore with the season-ending injury to Steve Smith Sr. He has produced a decent line of 25/333/2 this season and will be facing a Jaguars team that has allowed seven touchdowns to opposing wideouts over the past three games. With an expected big bump in targets and a low price, Aiken becomes an attractive target. The fact that he’s flying a little under the radar makes him all the more appealing. We could be looking at a breakout game for Aiken in what could turn into a mini-shootout between the Jaguars and Ravens.
Dorial Green-Beckham, $3,200
Mike Mularkey advised that he wanted to get Green-Beckham more involved in the offense and he wasted no time in doing so. The young wideout received a whopping 10 targets in last week’s upset win over the Saints. He hauled in five of them for 77 yards and all signs point to him being a key cog in the Titans offense for the stretch run. Grab Green-Beckham at a bargain basement price as he has a clear shot at returning 4x value – and possibly more.
Gary Barnidge, $4,800
It’s Week 10 and Gary Barnidge is still fantasy relevant. That’s no fluke as anyone who has watched him play can testify – the man can play. Barnidge has caught 42 passes for 602 yards and six touchdowns and is averaging 16.4 points per game. He has developed a nice chemistry with Josh McCown, who is questionable for this week. Barnidge’s value may take a hit if Johnny Manziel ends up starting, but that will only increase his contrarian appeal as that move may take him off the radar for most players.
Crockett Gillmore, $2,800
Gillmore should also see a bump in targets as the Ravens sort out the pecking order in the absence of their top wide receiver. He’s averaging 10.4 points per game and has already developed some chemistry with Joe Flacco. Look for Flacco to lean on Gillmore a little more and for the young tight end to have a solid shot at returning 4x value, all while flying under many DFSers radar.
Cincinnati Bengals, $3,300
The undefeated Bengals host the struggling Texans for a Monday Night affair and seem to be flying under the radar. Perhaps a game in front of a national audience will help to garner some more attention that they just may be for real this season. The Bengals have forced 12 turnovers, sacked opposing quarterbacks 23 times and held opponents to 19 points or less six times this season. As a 10 ½-point favorite at home, the Bengals are a defense that needs to be on your radar.
Oakland Raiders, $2,100
The Raiders qualify as both a punt play at defense and a contrarian play. For a dollar store salary, we have a defense that has reached double-digits in points on three separate occasions. As we mentioned when discussing Adrian Peterson, the Raiders have stepped it up defensively at home of late and could be in line to do the same thing this week. Some potential upside and tremendous salary savings make the Raiders an interesting contrarian selection for Week 10.
That’s a wrap for The Contrarian for Week 10 and we now have a solid list of under the radar plays to keep in mind while constructing our lineups. Making the correct calls on a few against the grain plays can make a ton of difference for your lineups, be sure to keep the above players in mind while searching for a little uniqueness to separate your lineups from the pack. Best of luck this weekend!