FanDuel Contrarian Picks: Week 2
I’ll keep this brief because you’ve got 2,000+ words ahead of you, but consider this your road-map to the lesser visited DFS options for the week. We’ll get this out of the way early, most of these options are focused on taking down tournaments by differentiation. While you want to maximize your overall score, successful weeks by the players on this list will rocket you to the top of leaderboards, due to the fact that very few players ahead of you will have them as well. There are a few plays this week that I would recommend for “cash” (50/50, head to head) games, but most of these plays are going to be sneaky values meant for tournaments.
Welcome to the jungle, we’ve got fun and games, actually, we only have one game, which is darts.
DARTS OF THE WEEK
ELI MANNING – $8,800, 1.5% USAGE PROJECTION
Let’s address the elephant in the room, making fun of Eli Manning is America’s pastime. It’s a big ole, tasty, low-hanging fruit cobbler that we get a heaping helping of after nationally televised Week 1 dud performances (20-36, 193 yards, 0 TD). Thus arises a tremendous opportunity for differentiation and value, and it’s time to invest in Manning.
The Giants are still going to be running an up-tempo attack, and are facing another team in the Falcons whose M.O. is to score, and score quickly. Vegas predicts a higher than average combined score (51 points, second highest of the week), and sees the Giants as the third highest scoring team of the week with 27 projected points. If Vegas sees Manning’s horrific Week 1 as an aberration, I’ll believe ’em.
While the public is taking about Dan Quinn bringing the Seattle defense to Atlanta, I simply don’t see the Falcons’ defense being that much better than it was last year. After the initial euphoria of their home opener had worn off, the Eagles gashed them for 21 points (and a missed field goal attempt) in the second half. There was a marked difference in the efficacy of the passing game, as Sam Bradford averaged 8.8 yards per attempt in the second half, possibly shining a light on a continued weakness in pass defense.
A great way to both differentiate this week while adding in a measure of safety is a Manning-Beckham Jr-Donnell stack. With the Giants projected to score three touchdowns, it’s quite probable that the Giants’ top WR, and their top red zone target get at least one each. With Donnell also projected to be sparsely chosen (.5% projected usage), this combo has a shot to bring down a tourney this week.
It seems that the former Chadron State Eagle is going to be the play that wins you your week again. Woodhead is such a value this week that I had to double check with our editors to see if his projection was due to a clerical error.
Because he’s a superior pass blocker/catcher, Woodhead has scrapped his way into the prime side of a timeshare with Melvin Gordon, taking on the primary pass-catching and red zone duties.
Let’s just take a step back for a second. Woodhead is the RB who picks up the majority of pass catching (.5 points per reception), and red zone (6 pts per TD) opportunities. Plus, he’s on a team projected to score 22 points in a game the experts predict to stay close, but be high scoring (Vegas projects the Bengals to score 25 points, placing it at a 47 point projected total), with a price-point of $6,200 (only 12.4 points needed to meet value).
If I could write a 10,000-word think-piece on Woodhead this week, I would. He’s that spectacular of a value, and the fact that he’s so little used makes him a must-play in tournaments. He looks to have 15+ touches this week, with at least five of them coming from receptions. If you want a big ol’ gritty ball of flaming take, Woodhead will only need the first half to meet value. He’s a must-play in tournaments and a solid consideration in cash.
Going contrarian does not mean universally going cheap, and Stewart outside of Manning, Stewart is the most expensive Darter on the list. In his case, it’s a matchup between an unstoppable force and an immovable object, volume versus Vegas.
According to the sharps, the Panthers/Texans matchup is going to be somewhere between vomitrocious and unwatchable, with a combined projected point total of 39.5, the lowest of the week. However, the Panthers are projected to score 21 points, meaning Vegas sees them crossing the plane at least twice, enter Jonathan Stewart.
More athletic than you remember, and with a built in 20+ touches coming his way (going back into 2014, Stewart has seen 20+ touches in his last four outings), Stewart is going to get ample high-quality opportunities to solve the tough Texan defense. The sledding may be tough, but Stewart is the only kid in the neighborhood with a jetpack to get him back to the top of the hill.
I don’t recommend him for your head-to-head or your 50/50 matchups, but if you want a differentiator for your tournaments and league play, choose volume over Vegas and dial-up J-Stew.
Thrust into a more prominent role this week, you would think that the 2013 leader in receptions would be a widely used option, but strangely Pierre Garcon is still being treated as a WR2.
Say it with me please, it’s the volume, reader.
With DeSean Jackson out with a hamstring injury, this figures to be the beginning of a stretch of unforeseen opportunity for Garcon, who was trending towards being fake football non-grata with a dreadful 2014 season. This could point to his low ownership percentage, but alas, it’s 2015 and things have changed.
When given the opportunity Garcon turned eight targets into a 6-74-0 line in what shaped up to be a low-scoring Week 1 outing (only two combined offensive touchdowns). You have to worry that the track is slow (second lowest combined points total of the week, with a meager 19 for Washington). But with the aforementioned Jackson injury and the news that Jordan Reed may be less than 100% expect Garcon to see a bump in usage. With only 10.8 points needed to meet value, he’s priced in a way in which he does not need to score to contribute to your Fanduel lineups, BUT the chance of a touchdown and a 3X value week is very, very real.
A-Rob fans, be patient, the hype train is going to be leaving the station shortly. After a disappointing Week 1, suffering from the twin maladies of having Blake Bortles as his quarterback and being covered largely by underrated shutdown CB Josh Norman, Robinson gets a bit of a breather this week on the road against the Dolphins. While Vegas projects the Jags to throw another L onto their already large and impressive L-collection, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Robinson draws two Lilliputian CBs in Brent Grimes and Bruce McClain. While the quality of targets from Bortles may not be high, a fast-paced and high-scoring Dolphins offense should force the Jaguars to abandon the run, leading to opportunities a-plenty for A-Rob.
Needing only 11.4 points to make value and still figuring to have a big role in the red zone with Julius Thomas out, Robinson is going separate you from the pack this week in tournaments.
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For the three of you who didn’t click out of this article, you’ll be glad you stayed. It’s more than a bit Mad Hatterish, but if you want to go minimum price at a WR slot, Street is way to go this week.
With the Eagles projected to score 30, and the Cowboys projected to score 25, you want to take a second and third look at the ancillary actors in this matchup. While appearing like a long-shot, Street has a low bar to clear, and an uptick in volume coming, the exact conditions you want for a contrarian pick.
It’s no so much that I’m in love with Street (I did write about him earlier, labeling him as deep sleeper No. 40), but relative to the other Cowboy options with Dez Bryant out, Street is the most intriguing. He has the largest catch radius of any healthy WR, and was an impressive producer in college. He’s not locked into a pre-established role like Terrance Williams (large X WR), or Cole Beasley (can’t play anywhere outside of the slot). Plus, his versatility should lead to targets all over the field.
All it’s going to take for Street to make value is a 5-70-0 line. To be quite frank, with teams knowing that Jason Witten is the only proven red zone weapon the Cowboys have. If you’re feeling frisky, this is the play for you.
Enjoy this one, fellow LaDarius believers, the fantasy fun fair is coming to a close Week 4, so you better spend those tokens now. Green has the exact measurements you want from a fantasy dreamboat (6-6, 240 lbs, rumored 4.5 40 yard dash) and put them to use with a 5-74-1 Week 1 outing against the Lions.
Speaking of speed, the Bengals are going to be starting A.J. Hawk and Rey Maualuga at LB this week, both of whom move as if they are waist-deep in chili. Neither were nearly as athletic as Green in their respective prime’s and aren’t remotely qualified to contain the Rajun-Cajun turned supercharged matchup nightmare that is Ladarius Green.
The trifecta of talent, role and matchup are aligning this wee, and Green has the potential to hit cash-game value (10.6 points) with one well-placed play-action pass. Mark him down as your differentiator in tournaments, and I would even recommend him in cash games if you’re looking to diversify.
Hoo boy, both spookier and scarier than a werewolf bar mitzvah, if you can stomach the putrid secondary of the team in the capital, you can both save some bucks for other positions while differentiating your GPP lineups. Washington only forced three hurries on the Dolphins last week, but this is going to be the first road test for a Rams offensive line starting two rookies and a lesser regarded UDFA center in Tim Barnes. The potential for sloppiness leading to some unexpected defensive goodness is very, very real D.C.
The weekly T-Mobile FanDuel auto-cash plan got a little more expensive this week. This means he’s no longer a “must-play,” but for some reason, the public still hasn’t caught on to this low-salary dynamo. He was in for a huge day in Week 1, but game-flow conspired against Taylor, as Buffalo took the air out of the ball leading big in the second half. With a salary of only $6,300, Taylor is a safe bet to possibly hit value in the first half again, and Tyrod plus studs is not a bad GPP plan this week.
Call me crazy, but we could have a shootout bubblin’ in Green Bay this weekend. The Packers/Seahawks 49 combined total points is third highest of Week 2 games, and Russell Wilson in the one in the position to capitalize on this fast track. He may be insufferable, but he completed 78% of his passes last week and chipped in 31 rushing yards. With another 40+ attempt game on the horizon, A Wilson/Graham (4.2% ownership projection) stack is a contrarian play you need to ponder this week.
Always a threat to take it the distance whenever he touches the ball, Murray seems to have vanquished Roy Helu to the bench for good. In fact, Murray was the only non-fullback Raider RB to receive a touch in Week 1. If the Raiders defense can keep them in the game, this little known (less than 1% owned) emerging every-down back has a shot to far exceed value (13.6 points).
I can tell you with 100% certainty, Rashad Jennings will be under orders to score this week. He faces a Falcon defense that was both gashed by the run in the second half, and primed for an emotional letdown on the road. Jennings is a prime example of the conservative, sandwich-heavy, Vegas favorite, RB-portfolio churning out value. With only 1.7% projected ownership, Jennings could meet value (12.8 points) with touchdowns alone.
He wouldn’t be nearly as cheap as he is now ($4,600) if Tom Brady hadn’t overthrown him while he was wide open in the end zone. Also, Buffalo has openly declared war on Gronk this week, leaving the door wide open for someone like Amendola to have his shots. If you’re looking to stuff in some high-dollar studs, Amendola is a great way to do so while differentiating.
With Alshon Jeffery getting downgraded to questionable, Royal’s nonexistent ownership percentage could shoot upward way over 10% by kickoff. The slotback could very well rhapsodize his way to the 9.6 points needed to meet value by halftime.
He’s still the player that we swooned over in the preseason, and the Raiders still have few other options in the passing game. It’s only a matter of time before we get the first of many “AmariCoohmygoshhejustwonmyweek” games. The Ravens secondary is far less talented than the Bengals, and he had 11 targets last week, he’s got both ceiling and floor.
Everyone wants a piece of the Saints, but they seem to be shying away from Watson. Granted he’s not a looker by any stretch of the imagination, but he possesses and a established red zone role on a team projected to score 29 points. It’s a fact that Drew Brees plays far better at home than he does on the road, and Watson looks to be a low-cost beneficiary of that proficiency.
Buffalo Bills D/ST
There is a very real chance that the Bills’ defense could harken back to the days of cheesily awesome posters and unironic zubaz. With Vegas calling it a near pick’em situation, if Buffalo plays it’s “A” game against the Patriots, you’ll both meet value and surge ahead of those stacking the Pats.