The Contrarian: FanDuel Week 7

Identifying underexposed players to create roster uniqueness in tournaments.

The question we all have to answer this week is whether or not we can fade DeMarco Murray. Or rather, how much exposure to Murray is enough? He will be one of the highest, if not the highest, owned players of Week 7. Not only has he been excellent this season, he has a great matchup on Sunday against a Colts’ defense that has given up over a thousand total yards to the position (fourth most) and nine total touchdowns (tied for second most).

Combine a great matchup with Injuries to LeSean McCoy, fear of the Steelers’ offense without Ben Roethlisberger (pushing the crowd away from Le'Veon Bell), and a tough matchup for David Johnson (Seahawks’ run defense), and you have all the makings of monstrous ownership numbers for Murray.

So, should you fade him and break away from the crowd? It’s more of a question of do you gain more if you fade him and he fails, or if you own him and he succeeds? Which scenario has more value? He’ll need 26.1 points to hit 3x value. His high mark for the season is 24.9. His low mark came last week in a matchup that was almost as tasty as this one. Nothing is guaranteed. Personally, I’ll keep my exposure in check—well below his projected ownership—and hope for a slow day. But my core tournament lineup will likely include his services.

General Week 7 Thoughts

We have a lot of angles to consider thanks to multiple injuries and a quarterback change. We also have a lot of tasty looking matchups with seven games featuring an over/under of at least 46 points.

Given the value plays provided by injuries, a common strategy is going to be cheap quarterbacks (Colin Kaepernick or Geno Smith), plus cheap running backs, plus expensive wide receivers, and fill in the rest. I love the value across the board at the running back position. But if you want to get a contrarian edge, the sharp move is to pay up for running backs and do what you can with wide receivers. My guess is rosters featuring three top-priced guys like Julio Jones, Mike Evans, and A.J. Green will be common. So, if you want to avoid the crowd, pay up for running backs and search for value plays at receiver.

Another version of roster construction that will be popular this week is an elite quarterback, plus high/low running backs, one elite wide receiver, and fill out the rest. I like this option more so than combining all cheap backs. You don’t want that much volatility in your lineup regardless of game format.

Regarding the over/under, the two lowest projected totals of the week happen to be the two primetime games. The Seahawks/Cardinals is slated for only 43.5 points. The last time these teams met, the Seahawks dominated in a 36-6 rout of the NFC West champs. Their other regular season game also had an over/under of 43.5 points; they combined for 71. Both offenses have enough talent to match up against both defenses. Don’t be afraid to target this game (though I don’t love either quarterback).

The Chiefs have the second highest projected team total and are favored by 6.5 points over the Saints. For those of you considering a double-down on Alex Smith, I would urge you to consider running backs instead. In fact, I will be throwing out several lineups that feature both Spencer Ware and Jamaal Charles. It’s risky, but the two combined for 35 FanDuel points last week, which is just below what they’ll need this week to hit 3x value.

On to Week 7.


Andy Dalton - $8,100

We have a lot of good quarterback options this week, which means flat ownership numbers across the board. As always, I don’t mind ignoring ownership numbers for this position and would much rather have an elite, expensive option than a cheap, risky option, regardless of popularity. Dalton doesn’t exactly fit either description. But the Browns are an easy target. They’ve allowed three passing touchdowns in four straight games and multiple scores in all six. Only the Lions have allowed more touchdowns and more FanDuel points per game. A quick check of the Browns’ defensive game logs against quarterbacks gives me a lot of confidence that Dalton is solid play this week:













Marcus Mariota 6 17 24 284 3 1 7 64 0 28.76 7600
Tom Brady 5 28 40 406 3 0 2 14 0 29.64 8700
Jimmy Garoppolo 5 0 1 0 0 0 2 -3 0 -0.3 6000
Kirk Cousins 4 21 27 183 3 1 0 0 0 18.32 7600
Ryan Tannehill 3 25 39 319 3 2 1 2 0 20.96 7400
Joe Flacco 2 25 45 302 2 2 1 1 0 18.18 7400
Carson Wentz 1 22 37 278 2 0 2 1 0 19.22 5000

Hard to say no to those stats. Dalton comes into Week 7 as QB10 and has finished as QB7 and QB11 over the last two weeks. He might have Tyler Eifert back for this game, adding to Dalton’s chances of throwing multiple scores. Either way, I’ll have a lot of A.J. Green shares, and it only makes sense to stack Dalton in most of those lineups.

Philip Rivers - $7,800

Rivers had his worst game of the season last week against a tough Broncos’ defense and has been inconsistent all year. His weekly finishes in FanDuel scoring are as follows: QB20, QB7, QB23, QB7, QB4, QB25. That’s a tough pattern, but three top-seven finishes give me faith that he’s a great play when not facing an elite defense.

This week, he travels to Atlanta and gets one of the softest pass defenses in the league. Only four teams have allowed more yards and only two have allowed more touchdowns. This contest has the highest over/under of the week (53.5 points), and I can’t come up with a reason why it won’t hit the over. Neither of these defenses is good, and even though the Falcons are favored by 6.5 points, the Chargers are averaging 28.8 points per game—third-most—and are scoring on 44.9 percent of their drives—fifth best rate. Rivers should be in for a huge game. The only thing you need to figure out is who to stack him with. I’ll ignore ownership and go with Hunter Henry (the Falcons are terrible at covering tight ends).

Running Backs

Spencer Ware - $7,000 and Jamaal Charles - $6,800

I briefly hinted at this stack in the intro and recommended similar stack last week with Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. I was way off. But Ware and Charles offer a much higher floor. Combined, they’ll cost us $13,800—an average of $6,900 per and just 23 percent of the salary cap, which is slightly less than a high/low combo of Murray and Jacquizz Rodgers—a combination that will be massively popular.

Last week, Ware and Charles scored 35 points and if Dontari Poe doesn’t vulture a touchdown… well, let’s just say it could have been a lot more. Additionally, the weather conditions in Oakland created a bit of a sloppy field resulting in Andy Reid playing Charles less. I think we see a much closer timeshare against the Saints, who are a dream matchup for running backs. They haven’t given up a ton of yards—just 117.8 per game (seventh most)—but they bleed touchdowns to the position with 10 rushing and one receiving. There should be a lot of points scored in this game and the Chiefs—who are favored by six somehow—have the second highest projected team total of the week, just below the Falcons. The crowd might be tempted to double-down on Smith, but the sharp move is to plug in his running backs.

As mentioned, we’ll need over 40 points to hit value. That might be a lot to ask of a team that’s averaging just 24.6 rushing attempts per game, which ranks 19th. But 30.1 percent of their total fantasy points have come from running backs—eighth-most of all teams, and they ran the ball a whopping 36 times last week. Expecting three total touchdowns, 180 total yards, and six or seven catches isn’t unreasonable. And by playing the entire Chiefs’ backfield, you instantly create a unique roster. It’s risky but could swing tournaments.

Note: Charles may end up playing fewer snaps than expected due to knee swelling and limited practice on Friday. Ware will be highly owned if Charles seems unlikely to play.

Shaun Draughn - $4,500

Not that we need a minimum priced running back this week, but if you want to separate from the pack and still get a value option, Draughn should have plenty of opportunities thanks to Carlos Hyde’s injury. Last year, Draughn took over as the No. 1 back for six games and didn’t produce anything eye-popping:











9 ATL 16 58 0 5 4 38 0 13.6
11 SEA 12 37 0 11 8 40 0 15.7
12 ARI 15 51 0 5 5 35 0 13.6
13 CHI 13 36 1 6 5 50 0 19.6
14 CLE 11 43 0 3 2 8 0 7.1
15 CIN 9 38 0 2 1 4 0 5.2

The thing that stands out the most is his contributions as a receiver. That should blend perfectly with the read-option, up-tempo attack we’ll see from Chip Kelly’s crew, especially with Colin Kaepernick starting. The matchup is worth chasing. The Buccaneers are coming to town having allowed the ninth most FanDuel points per game. They rank 12th in receiving yards surrendered to the position despite allowing just 18 receptions. That translates to 13.7 yards per reception—easily the most of all teams. Draughn has more value in full PPR sites, but worth consideration in all formats.   

Wide Receivers

Allen Hurns - $6,000

Hurns led the team in targets last week with 11 and is tied with Allen Robinson in red zone looks. Both receivers could have a big day against an exposable Raiders’ secondary. But I plugged Blake Bortles as a fade, noting that the Raiders’ horrible defensive stat sheet is inflated thanks to playing elite passing offenses.

The Jaguars do not have an elite passing offense. They do, however, struggle to run the ball and will be forced into a pass-heavy attack. They’re fourth in pace per Football Outsiders, averaging 25.45 seconds per play. Unfortunately, that hasn’t translated to efficiency as they’ve scored on just 19 of their 59 drives, which is the 21st worst rate in the league. Nor has it translated to volume—their 62.8 plays per game ranks 20th. All this says to fade the Jaguars offense, but Hurns has value as a key receiver that doesn’t get the same defensive attention as his elite teammate. He was excellent in the red zone last year and is a good bet to score this week. If you’re looking for a cheap option, he has a decent floor and an underrated ceiling.

Mike Wallace - $6,900

Wallace started the year hot with three touchdowns on seven catches and 132 yards. But in the four games since his two-score performance in Week 2, Wallace has only 18 catches for 238 yards and zero touchdowns. Those numbers translate to WR40 and a not a lot of optimism. But he was busy last week with nine targets, four catches, and 97 yards. We should see similar stat line against the Jets, who have allowed the second-most FanDuel points per game to wide receivers. With Steve Smith unlikely to play, Wallace will once again be the main target for Joe Flacco. There is some injury concern after he missed practices on both Wednesday and Thursday, but Flacco should be good to go after returning to practice on Friday. Even if the Ravens haven’t scored a lot of points, they lead the league in plays per game and their defense should create added volume. Wallace is sure to see plenty of deep targets and doesn’t need a huge game to hit value.

Pierre Garcon - $6,100

We haven’t seen a monster game yet from Garcon this year, but he’s slowly heating up. Over the last two weeks, he has 18 targets, 11 catches, 133 yards and one touchdown. His five targets inside the 10-yard line are tied for the third most in the league and leads all Washington receivers. His recent involvement as a top option for Kirk Cousins couldn’t come at a better time. Cousins and Co. travel to Motor City to take on a bad Detroit secondary in a game that should feature lots of scoring. Here’s what wide receivers have done to this defense over the last four games:











Kenny Britt 6 0 0 0 7 136 2 29.1 5800
Brian Quick 6 0 0 0 5 61 0 8.6 4500
Tavon Austin 6 3 2 0 3 24 0 4.1 5700
Bradley Marquez 6 0 0 0 1 13 0 1.8 4500
Josh Huff 5 2 10 0 3 5 1 9 4500
Jordan Matthews 5 0 0 0 4 65 0 8.5 7000
Dorial Green-Beckham 5 0 0 0 3 43 0 5.8 4900
Nelson Agholor 5 1 5 0 2 27 0 4.2 5400
Eddie Royal 4 0 0 0 7 111 1 20.6 5500
Kevin White 4 0 0 0 6 55 0 8.5 5500
Alshon Jeffery 4 0 0 0 3 46 0 6.1 8200
Cameron Meredith 4 0 0 0 4 28 0 4.8 4500
Jordy Nelson 3 0 0 0 6 101 2 25.1 8300
Davante Adams 3 0 0 0 2 23 1 9.3 5700
Randall Cobb 3 0 0 0 1 33 0 3.8 7100

This is a great situation for Washington’s receivers. Garcon is especially a good option if Jordan Reed is out and DeSean Jackson is questionable. If Jackson doesn’t play, we have to be concerned with Garcon being matched up against Lions’ top cornerback Darius Slay. But I’ll still take a chance and hope for a score.

Tight Ends

Jack Doyle - $4,700

I love punting the tight end position whenever I can. Doyle gives us that option this week after he logged his third touchdown against the Texans. He is not a safe play by any means, and could end up blocking for a chunk of this game thanks to the Colts’ awful offensive line. In fact, the Titans’ defense might be a tough matchup. But 18.6 percent of the Colts’ total fantasy points have come from the tight end position—the third most of all teams. Dwayne Allen is likely out after injuring his ankle last week. In his absence, Doyle logged 66 snaps and caught all for targets for 53 yards and a score. He’s nice GPP play and provides a lot of roster flexibility.

Cameron Brate - $5,200

The up-tempo styles of the 49ers and Buccaneers should create lots of opportunities for fantasy points in this contest. Brate has a solid matchup against a defense that has allowed the seventh-most yards to tight ends, as well as two touchdowns. Vincent Jackson’s vacancy in the lineup is good news for Brate’s chances in the red zone. He has 21 targets over his last three games and will now be the third, or maybe even second option for Jameis Winston. In fact, while the crowd chases Evans, a Winston/Brate stack makes for a nice GPP contrarian look.


With most of the crowd on the Bengals and Patriots, the Baltimore Ravens ($4,800) offer a lot of upside even on the road. Geno Smith is starting for the Jets and comes into Week 7 with 36 interceptions since 2013. That’s the 17th most in the league despite the fact that he has played only 32 games during that stretch. The Ravens are a solid play, even if they have moderate ownership.

The Seahawks rank 20th in points per game and 15th in yards per game, so targeting their offense usually doesn’t yield great results. However, their offensive line is a major liability, especially with Russell Wilson’s mobility still limited. Enter the Arizona Cardinals defense—at home—who have the fifth highest sack percentage and are allowing 17.3 points per game—the sixth fewest. If you want action in the Sunday night game, the Cardinals defense ($4,600) and Chandler Catanzaro make for solid, low-owned stack.

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