Playing small slates brings with it tough choices to dig deep and find a lower owned player that can find the end zone and vault you up the leaderboard. Give me a running back and wide receiver (or tight end) that you think will be under 10% owned that has the best shot at finding the end zone (Please explain your reasoning)?
Phil Alexander: To find a viable running back at less than 10% owned on this slate you'll need to put on a pair of waist-high hip waders and get ready to dig real deep. We can rule out each team's starting running back -- even Ameer Abdullah, who is priced below $4K (DraftKings) despite scoring a touchdown in three consecutive games. Receiving specialists out of the backfield like Theo Riddick, Shane Vereen, and Rod Smith are likely to be sub-10%. Out of those three, the one with the best odds of a touchdown is Riddick, who is second on the Lions in total red zone opportunities (rushes + targets). He also ran the ball more effectively than Abdullah last week on a season-high nine carries, so maybe we'll see his usage continue to hover in the 12-15 touch neighborhood.
The wildcard at running back is 2016 undrafted free agent Byron Marshall, who was signed off the Eagles practice squad last week by Washington. Chris Thompson's season-ending injury leaves a huge void in the passing game for Kirk Cousins and company. Entering Week 11, Thompson's 17% target market share tied him with Jamison Crowder for the team lead. The most likely scenario is the majority of Thompson's targets being spread out amongst the team's receivers and tight ends, particularly Crowder on high percentage slot routes. But Marshall is an intriguing athlete with an unknown ceiling. He can certainly catch passes out of the backfield, having played some wide receiver at Oregon, and he can get to top speed quickly, so we can't rule out a splash play or two. I wouldn't recommend heavy exposure to Marshall, but I would co-sign up to 10% ownership if you're making multiple GPP lineups.
At wide receiver, I'll be taking some shots on Kenny Golladay. The rookie's snap count increased from 21% to 56% in his second game back from injury, which suggests he's back to where he began the season -- as a starting receiver in three-wide sets. Golladay has hauled in a pass of 40+ yards in both games since his return, which doesn't seem fluky given his sensational preseason and multi-touchdown NFL debut. At low ownership on a short slate, you're looking for a wide receiver who can pay off with one big play and Golladay fits the bill as long as he's healthy and receiving playing time.
John Mamula: Personally, I don't think RB is where you want to differentiate from the field on this three-game slate. The most popular choices (Melvin Gordon III, Samaje Perine, Latavius Murray, Orleans Darkwa, Alfred Morris) are the most likely to produce for your lineups.
If I had to choose, Rod Smith is a running back that should be less than 10% owned and could find the end zone. Darren McFadden was a surprise inactive last week and only received one offensive snap the week prior. With Ezekiel Elliott suspended, Morris and Smith are left to pick up the scraps. If the Cowboys find themselves playing from behind, Smith will be in-line for some pass-catching duty. Against the Falcons, Smith had four receptions for 15 yards.
At wide receiver, Cole Beasley has my interest with a short slate. Chargers cornerbacks Casey Hayward and Trevor Williams should lock down the outside and Beasley will have an opportunity to produce in the slot. Beasley has shown multiple-touchdown upside as he seems to get his touchdowns in bunches. The wide receiver has four touchdowns this season and they came in two separate games. Week 5 against the Packers, Beasley finished with 4 receptions for 23 yards and 2 touchdowns. Week 9 versus the Chiefs, Beasley had 4 receptions for 24 yards and 2 touchdowns. Last season in Week 6 versus the Packers, Beasley had 6 receptions for 58 yards and 2 touchdowns.
If we assume the Chargers' Austin Ekeler is ineligible (more than 10% owned), I'll opt for Byron Marshall. Washington declared Marshall the team's new 3rd down/receiving back in place of Chris Thompson, and that mean's he'll have opportunities to make plays.
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