This is a weekly series where I break down the best contrarian plays for the upcoming NFL week. I’m going to be focusing on high upside, low owned plays and pairings that could really pay off big for you in a large tournament. Major outside the box thinking, cheap pricing and upside is the goal…
Tavon Austin/Rams Defense
Contrarian enough for you? Before you laugh me out of the building consider the fact that Austin will be getting to work with an actual NFL caliber Quarterback this year in Nick Foles who thrived throwing quick screens to Jordan Matthews and Darren Sproles in Philly. Also consider that the Rams have stopped viewing Austin as the next Wes Welker and now seem intent on getting him the ball in space any way possible. Austin is still an electric runner and also still returns punts, meaning a big play from him on special teams would get you a double TD bonus if you pair him with the Rams defense. With the Seahawks O-line looking horrendous in pre-season expect Aaron Donald and Alex Ogletree to rack up some sacks and for the Rams defense to be a better than average play. Austin’s price ($3300: DraftKings and $4700: Fanduel), his preseason usage and his ability as a punt returner makes stacking him and the Rams D one of my favorite big tournament plays in week 1.
Cam Newton/Ted Ginn
Ted Ginn may not exactly get your juices flowing but consider a couple factors before turning the page on this idea:
I expect the Panthers try to run the ball a lot while also using numerous quick screens with Ginn to try and utilize his speed after the catch, 5-6 targets and 70-80 yards is well within reach. Cam Newton could also be primed for a big game here and could have a massive day running the ball without red zone beast Kelvin Benjamin. If the two hook up for a TD you are really ahead of the game. I expect ownership on Ginn to be tiny and Cam’s to be lower than it should. Using the duo is a great way to get both upside at QB and flexibility to include two or three stud players in your lineup.
Teddy Bridgewater/Charles Johnson
I love the way Teddy Bridgewater has looked in the pre-season. He completed a godly 80% of his passes in three appearances and going back to his last 5 games from 2014 he compiled a completion rate of over 70%. Bridgewater has looked like a less explosive version of Russell Wilson to me in his limited play in the league. He’s an underrated pocket passer who can move when needed and almost always makes smart decisions. WR Charles Johnson is entering his second season with the Vikings. While many may look at Mike Wallace as the number one receiver for Minnesota the 6’3 215lbs Johnson should actually benefit from Wallace’s presence and get softer matchups and less attention from opposing secondary’s. That starts week 1 as Johnson is set to go up against Shareece Wright, one of the worst coverage corners of the past few years according to Pro Football Focus. Johnson is close to the same price as Davante Adams—the likely highest owned WR in week 1—on both major sites. I think pairing Teddy/Johnson gives you a low-owned, high upside pair that could hit it off week 1 and put you ahead of many people out there who will be betting on Davante Adams or an Adrian Peterson explosion.
First off, I am not a fan of starting Jags RB TJ Yeldon. Denard Robinson will essentially get passing downs and relief work for the Jags in this game and may simply be the better all-around back. He’s capable of catching 3-5 passes and more than capable of breaking a big play for a TD. I think you’ll see more of Robinson in this game, especially late since Jacksonville will likely be trailing. At $3000 on DraftKings Robinson is a min-priced play and gets the added benefit of full point PPR scoring. He could easily return you double-digit fantasy points on your investment there.
Conley is currently the third WR in Kansas City but with Albert Wilson hurting he might get a little more playing timing week 1 than previously thought. Conley’s an athletic freak with an outstanding vertical and sub 4.4 40 m time. There’s suddenly a lot of receiving options in KC but Conley could be a big red zone threat and downfield passing option in 2015, a la Martavis Bryant in Pittsburgh. He might get the least amount of playing time out of anyone I mentioned in this column but with KC committing to a more passing-oriented approach in 2015 there’s potential with him.
Think I have a Rams fetish now? In all seriousness the Seahawks may have the most talented defense in the league but they will be missing star safety Kam Chancellor and had trouble with the TE position in 2014 (allowing the 14th most fantasy points). This is by no means a layup but Cook is an athletic specimen who runs around 4.5 over 40m and is fully capable of a monster fantasyday . A few years ago he burned Arizona for a massive game on opening day and could replicate that feat here. I do think the Rams will give Seattle all they can handle Sunday and that Cook will be a part of that storyline. He’s a possible game changer for your teams in large tournies and priced at almost the min on both big sites.
I’ve heard a lot of people talk about using the Tampa defense against rookie QB Marcus Mariota but no one talk about using the Titans against Jameis Winston. Winston was the worst QB I saw play all pre-season. He made poor decisions and was completely unprepared to handle real pressure. I think the Bucs are going to have trouble putting points up on the board and moving the ball through the air. I also think new Titans DC Dick Lebeau will rev up some pressure in this game and cause a turnover or two, making a pick 6 or fumble return for a TD a definite possibility. The icing on the cake would be if Mike Evans also missed this game, and right now he looks doubtful. I think using the Titans gives you a high-upside defense that no one else will be using in their DFS line-ups come Sunday.