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…
Last Week: While none of our one-offs really panned out a couple of our stacks did (thanks Miami) and our defense again played well. This week there’s some plays that I really love and I think it’s a great week to be contrarian in tournaments (last week not so much). So without further ado…
When a star player has a bad game the week following that performance there is often an opportunity to get said player at very low ownership. Such is life with Larry Fitzgerald in week 8 as he sorely disappointed fantasy players with a lacking fantasy total in a plum matchup versus Baltimore last Monday night. As good as last week looked on paper I’m of the idea that this week might actually be better suited for a big passing day from Arizona. The Cardinals have a long road trip on a short week after playing on the MNF game and could get jumped on early by the feisty Browns who nearly took out Denver in their last home game. Even if the Browns get steamrolled there’s still a ton of potential for Palmer and Fitz in this game as Zona may be without WR John Brown this week, which will give a boost in targets to both Michael Floyd (who I also like) and Fitzgerald. The Cleveland secondary is without Joe Haden right now and struggled to contain weak armed Peyton Manning in week 6. Palmer and Fitz might have a field day this week and will be available at super low ownership levels, they’re a great tournament target week 8.
A lot has been made about how bad the Chargers run defense is but last week both Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree proved that their pass defense isn’t exactly killing it right now either. With Safety Eric Weddle also out the Ravens trio of Flacco/Smith and Gilmore could be in for a big day versus them week 8. With no other quality WR for Joe Flacco to throw Smith is pretty much guaranteed 12 targets these days and is still not priced crazily high on most sites. The real kicker though is using Gilmore who is getting 6 targets a game with rookie Maxx Williams out and has been arguably the most reliable receiver outside of Smith in Baltimore. With Weddle hurt I could see Gilmore being more of a factor in this game and possibly even finding the end zone. Joe Flacco has thrown for over 300 yards three times already in 2015 and I love the value and potential with this Baltimore trio week 8.
One of my main plays from week 1 of the season is back! The 49ers are awful in defending against the pass and have given up a ton of big plays, including one last week to Tyler Lockett. Austin has actually been seeing a lot of work from the Rams (8-10 touches a game) and with the creative ways the Rams have been getting him the ball (end around’s, screens, etc) a big play or two from Tavon in this game wouldn’t surprise me. While many will be pairing Todd Gurley with the Rams D, using Tavon might give you the edge in tournaments because a punt return would give you double dippage in TD points. I love this spot for my Tavon/Rams stack and think both Austin and the Rams defense is in line for a big day.
Doug Martin has looked great running the ball for the Bucs all year, but the coaching staff in Tampa is insistent on making Charles Sims “a thing”. Sims has been getting over 40% of the snaps the past few weeks and is actually averaging over 11 fantasy points on full ppr sites (shocking I know). The Bucs are 7 point underdogs and the way Jameis Winston throws pick 6’s the Bucs could find themselves in a hole on the road early in his game. If that happens expect Sims to be seeing a ton of dump passes as the Bucs play catch up versus some prevent D. A Danny Woodhead type performance is possible this week for Sims and as a cheap option at RB he’s got serious upside on PPR sites.
Crabtree may appear to have a tough matchup this week but he might actually be in a better spot than people realize. Darrelle Revis is slated to cover Amari Cooper right now and the rest of the Jets secondary have been giving up points to teams secondary WRs. Crabtree leads the Raiders in both overall targets and red zone targets for the year and is priced well under Cooper pretty much across the industry. There’s some sneaky upside to Crabtree this week as the Raiders won’t be able to run the ball much if at all versus the Jets. Crabtree might be their best option and see a ton of targets as a result.
The Falcons will be without Leonard Hankerson (who has been awful of late) week 8, meaning a few more targets will be available to everyone in the offense. TE Jacob Tamme has seen his role increase every week this year and he’s now up to playing on over 80% of the snaps. Tamme’s been running a lot of routes (not just blocking) and his role as a pass catcher might increase even more in a great matchup versus the Bucs who just allowed TE Jordan Reed to post a career day versus them. With coverage likely tilted towards Julio Jones in this game don’t be shocked if Tamme ends up posting a shockingly big line. I love him as a complete min-priced punt play in gpps and think he has some real upside this week.
The Titans offense gets an awesome matchup this week against the Texans who looked like they were auditioning to be Matadors on D versus Miami in week 7. The Titans offense has been pathetic themselves of late but RB Dexter McCluster has seen a rise in usage lately and actually led the Titans in targets in week 7. He’ll again be an important check down for backup Zach Mettenberger (who’s starting) and could find a little more room to roam this week against such a poor tackling D. On full point PPR sites I think Dex is actually a pretty solid value play with some sneaky upside for tournaments.
Green Bay Packers
There’s some defenses in good spots this week (the Rams will be popular) but the one D I could see really being overlooked and putting up big numbers is the Packers. People do not realize just how bad Peyton Manning is this year. He’s not game managing wins, he’s actually causing the Bronco’s to almost lose every week, and recently the Bronco’s just squeaked by the Browns and Raiders due to some horrible INTs thrown by Manning. The Packers are near the league in sacks and have an opportunistic secondary meaning this could get ugly. Don’t be shocked if you see multiple defensive scores by Green Bay with the possibility of a shutout… I love this spot for the Green Bay D as a completely overlooked tournament option in week 8.