The Contrarian is back to help you find some potential diamonds in the rough to help round out your tournament lineups for Week 12. Before digging into this week’s selections, let’s take a look at some of the games that may fall off the radar for the masses and contain some of this week’s hidden gems.
Under The Radar Games Of The Week
San Diego Chargers @ Houston Texans
Many DFSers may bypass this game at first glance, but it actually has the fourth highest projected total for the Sunday slate of games. We won’t make the mistake of snoozing on this one, and we’ll dig in a little bit to see where the points might come from. A quick way to narrow that down is to take a look at where the respective team’s defenses have been struggling of late. Over the past three weeks, we see that the Chargers are struggling against the pass, while the Texans are showing some vulnerability against running backs - especially pass catching backs.
That quick glance provides us with some options to add to our short list for the week. Brock Osweiler has been a pretty big disappointment in his first year at the helm for the Texans, and the fantasy output of DeAndre Hopkins has suffered as a result. Perhaps this is the week they can kick their chemistry into high gear against a secondary that’s been showing some weakness. We’ll definitely look to this stack as an outside the box option for Week 12. Melvin Gordon III pops up on the short list most weeks anyway, but we become even more intrigued by the recent vulnerability of the Texans run defense. We’ll give him some serious consideration for this week as well.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Baltimore Ravens
The Bengals have been decimated by injuries, and that takes a little wind out of the sails in terms of enthusiasm for this one. However, it also opens up a ton of opportunity and value for the skill position players that are still standing. At the top of the list are Jeremy Hill and Tyler Boyd, as both players are dirt cheap and in line for heavy workloads. They both make for appealing salary saver options this week. Tyler Eifert, Brandon LaFell, and Rex Burkhead are other options to keep in mind, but we’ll consider them more as boom-bust options and GPP fiers.
For the Ravens, the only real intrigue comes from the passing game. There’s too much uncertainty surrounding the workload in the backfield at the moment, and that points us towards staying away. We won’t use the same caution with the passing game, and Joe Flacco plus a target deserves consideration for a contrarian stack. Steve Smith has been producing more consistently of late, but Mike Wallace offers a ton of big play upside. We can consider both players as viable options in Week 12. Dennis Pitta is receiving his fair share of targets, but we’ll take a pass on him as he’s simply not producing.
Contrarian Thoughts To Keep In Mind
The Saints defense is improving. The days of simply placing the skill position players that are facing off against the Saints on your short list may be coming to a close. In fact, the defensive unit of the Saints is beginning to offer up some appeal as a fantasy option. Over the past three weeks, the Saints have sacked opposing signal callers nine times, and forced six turnovers. This information becomes even more interesting when you consider this week’s opponent, and there’s a really good chance you’ll be reading more about that matchup below.
The Seahawks can be burned by elite WRs. There’s a natural inclination among DFSers to shy away from offenses facing off against particular defenses, and the Seahawks are one of those units. While that’s probably a good idea when it comes to average talent, there’s still room to produce for players that have above average skill sets. We can include Mike Evans in that category, as he’s been a fantasy monster this season. While we’ll temper enthusiasm slightly because of the matchup, we also won’t completely shy away from it.
Sterling Shepard has scored a touchdown in each of his last three games. Eli Manning and the Giants have the privilege of facing off against the Browns this week, and that means we can expect to see Giants stacks aplenty. That points to a healthy ownership percentage for Odell Beckham Jr. - despite his hefty price tag - but we can zag slightly and gain some exposure to the passing game without losing upside. Shepard is coming into his own, and he’s becoming a key cog in the Giants passing attack. The salary makers at DraftKings aren’t buying it, which makes the rookie wideout an interesting low cost way to gain exposure to the upside of this matchup.
Derek Carr, $6,100. While this game features one of the highest projected totals of the week, the majority of DFSers that go hunting for a signal caller in this matchup will pin their hopes on Cam Newton. Carr will still see some love from the masses, but it will likely be nowhere near as much as Newton. That’s enough to consider him as a contrarian selection, and his potential upside in this matchup makes him even more appealing. The Panthers have righted the ship somewhat from their early season struggles, but they’ve still allowed some big games to opposing quarterbacks in 2016. Carr is no stranger to big games this season either, as he’s averaging a solid 20.7 points per game on DraftKings. We’ll look for him to at least hit that mark, and consider the upside of more a real possibility.
Tyrod Taylor, $5,900. Taylor has been pretty inconsistent this season, but we all know the upside he brings to the table because of his legs. He’s only met the 20 point threshold four times this season, but he’s also only offered up only two complete duds - including last week against the Bengals. That’ll point the masses away from him in Week 12, but we’ll look for him to rebound this week against the Jaguars. The Bills are a pretty big favorite in this one, and the game has a surprisingly high projected total. The points will come from somewhere, and the Jaguars have actually been pretty strong against opposing running backs in recent games. That points to Taylor finding the points through the air, and we’ll look for him to have one of those sneaky upside games that not many saw coming.
Spencer Ware, $6,100. When you have a projected total that fails to break 40 points, that’s typically a game you might want to shy away from for fantasy purposes. The matchup between the Chiefs and Broncos shapes up to be a hard-nosed slugfest on paper, but there still may be some fantasy points we can glean from it. This type of game points to a grind it out type of affair with both teams leaning on the running games, and the Broncos have been surprisingly vulnerable against the run in a few spots this season. We’ll see if Ware can join the list of the backs that have found success against them this season, and also enjoy his affordable salary and low ownership percentage.
Doug Martin, $4,900. We outlined above how DFSers tend to shy away from matchups against teams such as the Seahawks, but there’s still points to be found against them. While Martin doesn’t offer massive upside for this affair by any means, he’s also not facing off against the 1985 Chicago Bears. The risk comes from this turning into a one-sided affair that pushes the Buccaneers away from the run, but Martin can contribute as a pass catcher as well. That game script may offer him even more potential upside. Either way, Martin’s a lead back at a discount, and we’ll see if we can cash in on the salary savings he offers.
Brandon Marshall, $6,100. Marshall and the Jets have been a pretty large disappointment this season, but the game script points to the possibility for some fantasy upside. There’s a better than average chance that the Patriots will schellack the Jets, and that points to the Jeta airing it out in a bid to keep it respectable. While airing it out hasn’t worked out too well for the Jets in 2016, Marshall remains an elite level talent that can produce when the offense is clicking. If Ryan Fitzpatrick can regain anything resembling his 2015 form for this one at least, perhaps that comes to fruition. Marshall’s a boom-bust option for Week 12, but we’re intrigued by his low salary.
Rishard Matthews, $5,800. Matthews had his three-game touchdown scoring streak snapped last week, but he’s still receiving a boatload of targets. In last week’s game against the Colts, 13 passes sailed in his direction. He was able to haul in nine of them for 122 yards, which turned out to be a nice return on his low price - even without finding the end zone. The Titans have a date with the Bears on tap for this week, and we’ll look for Matthews to do more of the same. Quite simply, the Titans remain in the mix for the AFC crown, while the Bears are preparing for a top draft pick. We’ll look for the Titans to come out on top, and for Matthews to have a big hand in getting them there.
Julius Thomas, $3,000. We mentioned that the game between the Bills and Jaguars has a pretty decent projected total with the Bills as a big favorite, and that bodes well for some garbage time points out of the Jaguars. While Allen Robinson will see the majority of the targets in that scenario, there should still be enough scraps left over for Thomas. The problem with Thomas is that he’s pretty touchdown dependent in terms of fantasy value, but he sees a decent amount of looks in the red zone. We’ll see if he can haul in one against the Bills, and add on a serviceable amount of catches and yardage for good measure.
Vance McDonald, $3,000. McDonald has seen six targets in each of the past four games. That’s translated to two weeks of solid production and two duds, so consistent production is not McDonald’s friend. This game shapes up for the Dolphins to be out ahead, so seeing six targets again shouldn’t be a problem - it’s just a matter of what he does with them. We’ll settle for him snagging half of them for decent yardage and a score at this price, and use the massive salary savings to beef our lineups up elsewhere.
Kansas City Chiefs, $3,200. We already mentioned that the Broncos-Chiefs tilt shapes up as a defensive battle, so looking towards one of the defensive units could be a prudent decision. While the masses will land on the Broncos, we’ll zag on over to the Chiefs. The Chiefs defense has been producing pretty nicely this season, and they were riding a five-game streak of double digit fantasy points scored before tailing off against the Buccaneers last week. We’ll look for them to start a new streak against the Broncos in Week 12.
New Orleans Saints, $2,800. We mentioned that we’ve seen some signs of improvement out of the Saints defense, and we’re intrigued by the potential upside when they welcome the Rams to town. The Rams have shown that they can implode at times in the turnover department this season, so we always keep that in the back of our minds when scouting potential defenses. The Saints have been forcing their fair share over the past few weeks as well. They look like the most appealing option of the sub-$3,000 defenses this week on DraftKings.
Thanks for reading The Contrarian for Week 12. 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.