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: We had a pretty big week. Two of our stacks really paid off (Carson/Fitz and Rams/Tavon) and Tamme and Michael Crabtree were both massive plays. No time to gloat though, week 9 is almost here…
I don’t normally pay much heed to narrative plays but I have really been warming up to this one. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers cannot be thrilled after getting pummelled last week and this week they are headed to a meeting with undefeated Carolina in a game in which everyone and their mother is picking the suddenly fashionable Panthers. I am telling you right now Angry Aaron Rodgers scares me just as much as Angry Tom Brady and I am expecting Rodgers to take out some of his frustration on the Panthers this week. Matchup wise slotman Randall Cobb will likely avoid the Panthers two best corners and is still Rodgers most targeted receiver. Rodgers/Cobb might be well under 5% owned in most tournaments making this play a potential game changer if the duo goes off. Strategy, matchup and some good old fashion gut feeling gets this stack at the head of my week 9 picks.
Tyrod Taylor is finally back for the Bills who are headed into a crucial divisional clash with the Dolphins. Taylor is reportedly 100% and feeling great, which is potentially trouble for Miami who just lost their best pass rusher (Cameron Wake) for the season. In such a crucial matchup I fully expect Taylor to do what needs to be done in this game and would be shocked if he doesn’t get at least 40 yards rushing. The Dolphins got rocked by Gronk last week, and while Charles Clay isn’t Gronk he’s got a lot more pop after the catch than people realize. Clay’s targets were down the past couple weeks with Taylor out but is still leading all Bills receivers in targets by 14, mainly thanks to his work early in the season with Tyrod. I think Miami is still a fraud and Taylor and Clay expose them as such this week. This stack will also be criminally under owned in tournies and has big potential.
The Skins have been murder-death-killed by opposing teams running games the past three weeks. They’ve now allowed over 177 yards per game in that span and with Bill Belichick generally known for game planning to his opponents weaknesses I could see LeGarrette Blount getting a huge workload this week. Meanwhile the Patriots defense will be getting Kirk Cousins, he of the now famous “YOU LIKE THAT!” closing statement form week 7. Well Kirk, I don’t like this spot for you because the Patriots are as a team are currently top 5 in sacks and DE Chandler Jones is playing some of the best football in the league at the moment. Pairing these two together makes a ton of sense to me as the more points the Pats D scores, the more likely it is we’ll see a lot of Blount. While most of your opponents are zigging towards the Pats pass game, I’d suggest zagging to Blount and the Pats D.
Brandon LaFell has been quiet in his return to the Patriots but it’s not for lack of playing time or a lack of attention from Tom Brady. LaFell has now received 16 targets through 2 games and looked a lot sharper in last week’s game. The Skins secondary isn’t good and while I do think the Pats will go run heavy don’t be shocked if they look at this game as the perfect time to start integrating LaFell a little more too. As a cheap option across the industry he’s the perfect tournament target and a way to get cheap exposure to the Pats offense this week.
The leading target getter for Miami over the past three weeks? Rishard Matthews. Since the coaching change the Dolphins have been employing a lot more two WR sets and Matthews has been playing almost every single snap in that formation. Versus the Bills in week 3, Matthews had a massive game and as a team the Bills have struggled with secondary WRs who’ve avoided getting shadowed by Stephon Gilmore. I love Matthews as a player and with the Dolphins run game in danger of sputtering versus the Bills D don’t be shocked if its Matthews who has the big game and keeps Miami close.
This choice is definitely more about workload and a change in philosophy than anything specific about the player. Antonio Andrews is a big back who runs hard but physically nothing really jumps off the page about him. Still, he’s been upgraded to starter this week and the new coaching staff have labeled him as their “workhorse”. We don’t need to look back too far to see where another coaching change led to big things happening for an RB (Lamar Miller… week 6 and 7). Andrews has a really nice matchup against the Saints who proved last week that defense still isn’t really their thing. At close to min price, Andrews should see work in the pass game and get all the goal line work… and that means big game potential. He’s a great cheap RB option this week.
While the whole world is focusing on Malcom Floyd and Stevie Johnson I’ll be looking to take a shot in tournaments this weekend with Dontrelle Inman. Inman will see work as the third WR for SD who have been passing a ton and use a lot of 3 and 4 WR sets. At 6’3 the athletic Inman is actually the better fit and replacement for Keenan Allen and could definitely turn into a red zone threat for the pass happy Chargers. Last year he looked solid when given a chance and against the weak Bears pass D Inman could be the Monday Night hammer you’ve been looking for.
While I could honestly see the Eagles-Cowboys clash going either way this weekend the one thing I do know is that if the Eagles win it will likely be because of their defense and special teams. Philly has been pretty bad on offense of late and even though they could have some success running the ball their best shot at winning this game will be by their defense capitalizing on Matt Cassel starting at QB. The Eagles have some great run stoppers which could really force the Cowboys into more passing situations and mean big things for turnovers and a possible defensive score. With Darren Sproles returning punts a special teams score is also never out of the question. I love this squad for tournaments and am pretty sure they’ll be massively overlooked this weekend.