With the growing popularity of daily fantasy football and more new users arriving by the day, simply looking at the basic information and statistics available to everyone will not give you the edge you need to consistently submit winning lineups. Using data from sites like Pro Football Focus and RotoGrinders provides a unique way to look at player statistics and participation not found anywhere else.
I’ve gone with some less obvious and contrarian picks worth using in large field tournaments with a lower ownership percentage. That doesn’t mean there won’t be chalk players listed – there are still players that need to be in your lineup.
Last week’s picks were less than stellar to put it bluntly. Outside of Marshawn Lynch and Odell Beckham, there weren’t many players that exceeded value. Let’s not repeat that. Here are the picks this week.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $3 Million Fantasy Football league for Week 10's games. It's only $25 to join and first prize is $500,000. Starts Sunday, November 9th at 1pm ET. Here's the link.
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons, $7,800
"Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid."
Sometimes it is just this easy. In this case, Matt Ryan is our trusted blaster. We know what he is and we know that he has a history of beating up on the Buccaneers. It’s no secret that the Tampa Bay defense stinks this season by any measure or metric. Things haven’t gone according to plan for the Falcons this year but at least they are better off than Tampa Bay.
It may surprise you that Ryan is having a great fantasy season despite Atlanta’s struggles – mostly on the offensive line. He is averaging about two more fantasy points per game than last season when he threw for 4,515 yards and 26 touchdowns. The edge to taking Ryan this weekend is to zig when everyone else zags. Most people will see 11 sacks allowed by the hobbled offensive line in the last three games and run away.
Despite that, Ryan is getting sacked at a lower rate than last season. And it is easier to scheme pass protection against a team that cannot get to the quarterback despite having Gerald McCoy. Through eight games, the Buccaneers are averaging just 1.8 sacks and 3.5 quarterback hits each week. In Week 3, they only applied pressure to Ryan on five of his 26 drop backs with one sack on his way to a 286 yard and three-touchdown performance. Did I mention that Tampa Bay allows an average of 296.9 yards and 2.3 touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks? Matt Ryan makes an excellent pivot to the masses flocking to Ben Roethlisberger, and might outscore him at a $500 savings.
Matt Ryan Projection
QB Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders, $6,800
The Raiders are an 11-point underdog at home with one of the lowest team totals of the weekend according to Vegas lines. Normally this would not be a situation we would look to capitalize on, but the price is right on Derek Carr (I can’t tell you how many times this year I’ve almost typed David Carr) this week.
It’s no secret that Denver will probably walk away with this game easily, especially after an embarrassing loss last week to the Patriots. This has all the makings of a Peyton Manning right the ship week. All the Denver players are too expensive and they could let the foot off the throttle by the third quarter. That’s where Carr comes in. We know with great certainty that they will be losing for most of the game and will need to throw the football. Denver has what most would call a solid defense, but they rank in the bottom third of the league in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks with an average of 271.9 yards and two touchdowns. That alone would help make Carr a candidate to triple his FanDuel salary.
Derek Carr Projection
Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals, $8,100
Andre Ellington is coming off a big fantasy week in which the Cardinals gave the Cowboys a taste of their own medicine. Arizona won the precious time of possession battle and converted 60 percent of their third-down attempts to Dallas’ 27 percent. Last week also represented the third game in a row that Ellington had 25 touches or more. We know that Ellington is a good running back, but he has a perceived poor matchup against St. Louis that will have most others looking elsewhere at the position this weekend.
The Rams rank in the top eight teams in terms of allowing points to running backs – fresh off limiting the 49ers to just 16 carries for 66 yards. It was just two weeks ago they allowed Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis to rumble for 119 yards and three touchdowns. For the season, the Rams have allowed an average of 106.3 yards and 0.6 touchdowns per week. They have struggled with allowing yards after contact (575 yards) and missing tackles (miss a tackle 18% of the time). Ellington gained 63 of his 95 rushing yards last week after first contact and is slowly making his season-long yards per carry climb to a respectable level. We should see a healthy dose of Ellington this week and the Cardinals defense should give him some short fields to work with after turnovers and field position.
Andre Ellington Projection
Justin Forsett, RB, Baltimore Ravens, $6,500
It’s clear at this point of the season that the Ravens are employing a running back by committee approach each week. That makes it maddening to determine if one of these Baltimore backs are worth using in plum matchups like they have this weekend. Looking at the snap counts and market share of touches, Forsett still has the slight edge over Lorenzo Taliaferro. It’s not surprising to see Taliaferro steal some looks given his talent level but he’s still been limited to 24% of the snaps the last two games. Forsett is seeing 72% of the carries and 16% of the target market share in that same span.
Tennessee has a poor run defense and at almost 10-point underdogs on the road, we can see that Baltimore could go back to basics and pound the rock. The Titans have given up an average of 28.5 carries for 120.1 yards and a touchdown to opposing runners this year. Tackling has not been a strength either – over 64 percent of their running yards allowed have come after first contact. Even if Taliaferro steals some goal line looks, Forsett could break a long run against this defense like Arian Foster did in Week 8. He had two runs that combined for 77 yards and a touchdown.
Justin Forsett Projection
Ronnie Hillman, RB, Denver Broncos, $7,400
It looks like at press time that Montee Ball could suit up this week against the Raiders. It has been reported that Ronnie Hillman will remain the team’s starting tailback and this news about Ball could keep Hillman’s ownership lower as a result. Upon a casual perusal of Hillman’s box score, it looks like he struggled with running the ball and saved his day with seven catches for 47 yards and a touchdown. That was mostly dictated by game flow and shouldn’t be a precursor of things to come.
Oakland’s run defense has improved since the beginning of the season, though that isn’t saying much. Under Tony Sparano, the Raiders are allowing an average of 33.3 carries for 106.8 yards and 1.3 touchdowns to opposing runners each week. Just last week the Seahawks got their ground game back on track with 118 yards (70 yards after contact) and two touchdowns. We should see similar results this weekend – especially in the second half if the Broncos are running out the clock.
Ronnie Hillman Projection
Bobby Rainey, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, $6,700
This may be a longshot, but Bobby Rainey could find running lanes against Atlanta’s poor run defense. If you believe that prior success against a team if indicative of future success – then don’t forget that Rainey torched the Falcons for 167 combined yards and three touchdowns in Week 11 last season. Charles Sims looks like he may make this debut this week, but that should do little to suppress any of Rainey’s value.
Don’t expect the Falcons to be as poor as their season-long data suggests. Since Rashad Jennings disappointed the fantasy community in Week 5, Atlanta is giving up a modest 99 yards and a touchdown to runners in that time span. If the Buccaneers are going to have a chance to hang with Atlanta after a quarterback change, Rainey will need to be a big factor.
Bobby Rainey Projection
Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons, $8,000
The Julio Jones bandwagon is getting a lot lighter lately. Since Week 4, Jones has averaged just six catches for 74 yards – production that hardly merits his high price tag. Don’t overlook the last time that Jones had a big day, in Week 3 against this same Buccaneers’ defense (that is arguably worse now) he went for nine catches for 161 yards and two touchdowns. He’s “due” for a touchdown.
Don’t overthink this one. Just as I mentioned with Ryan above, Jones is as good as bet as any this week for a huge day. He also draws Johnthan Banks in coverage. He caught both of his targets against him in Week 3 for 42 yards and a touchdown. None of the other Buccaneers’ defenders had much luck that day either. Don’t overthink it this week – lock in Julio Jones as your top WR.
Julio Jones Projection
Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills, $8,100
Sammy Watkins could be overlooked this weekend because of his recent groin injury and his expensive price tag. He’s not going to be on many must-play lists, because he doesn’t have the best matchup and isn’t the best value, but receivers that post 12 catches for 279 yards and three touchdowns in their last two games are extremely valuable.
Last week the Jets of all teams exposed some weaknesses in Kansas City’s pass defense. For the season, they are a top-10 defense against wide receivers. However, Eric Decker (9-63-1) and Percy Harvin (11-129) both had monster fantasy days. Most of Decker’s production came with Ron Parker in coverage – the same defender Watkins will see the most of on Sunday. Cornerback Sean Smith stays on the right side about 85% of the time, so the Bills will be able to move their lone deep threat away from him for most of the game.
Sammy Watkins Projection
James Jones, WR, Oakland Raiders, $5,400
If Derek (not David) Carr is going to have a big day, his best chance for success against the Denver defense is over the middle. James Jones has settled in as the super-sized slot receiver for Oakland (52% of snaps) and will see the best matchup (Bradley Roby) of the top three receivers, while also avoiding Chris Harris and Aqib Talib on the outside.
Bradley Roby is fading fast after a solid start to his rookie season. In the last three weeks, he has allowed 13 catches for 121 yards and three touchdowns. Jones should have his way in this contest.
James Jones Projection
Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee Titans, $5,400
The term “boom or bust” gets thrown around often, but if one player qualified for that moniker it would be Justin Hunter. He has had highs (3-99-1) and lows (1-6) so far this season that gave DFS players heartburn. This week he has an enticing matchup against a reeling Ravens team that just gave up 340 yards and six touchdowns to the Steelers. Zach Mettenberger isn’t Ben Roethlisberger, but he should be able to take advantage of the injuries plaguing Baltimore. Hunter should see Detroit castoff Danny Gorrer and Ladarius Webb in coverage. Gorrer gave up 10 catches for 119 yards on 14 targets in limited duty for the Lions and Webb is fresh off surrendering seven catches for 105 yards and a touchdown to all-world receiver Antonio Brown.
Given Mettenberger’s willingness to chuck it deep (9.2 average depth of throw) and Hunter’s 18.1 aDOT – it wouldn’t be surprising to see the two connect for a long touchdown. Hunter has GPP-winning upside and roster crushing downside. Choose wisely.
Justin Hunter Projection
Larry Donnell, TE, New York Giants, $5,300
Larry Legend got back in our good graces with a modest fantasy output in Week 9. Now he faces Seattle and their defense that struggles mightily to cover opposing tight ends. They have become a team to plug and play against, which seems odd given the narrative that they have a solid defense.
For the season, Seattle has allowed an average of 4.6 receptions for 40.4 yards and 1.3 touchdowns per week. Their struggles are well documented. For example, lightly-regarded Mychal Rivera saw 29 percent of the Raiders’ targets last week and torched DeShawn Shead for eight catches for 38 yards and two touchdowns. Even a healthy Cam Chancellor wouldn’t help matters much.
Given that Richard Sherman is going to limit either Odell Beckham or the struggling Rueben Randle in coverage, Eli Manning will need to rely heavily on Donnell to move the chains and score when in the red zone.
Larry Donnell Projection
Andrew Quarless, TE, Green Bay Packers, $4,800
Andrew Quarless represents the biggest punt option on this list. However, we want to find cheaper exposure to one of the highest projected totals of the weekend between Green Bay and Chicago. The Bears haven’t been able to stop opposing tight ends prior to their bye week and they rank dead last in the league in allowing the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends, per our RotoGrinders Defense versus Position resource. For the season, the Bears have allowed an average of 6.1 receptions for 81.4 yards and 0.9 touchdowns. Ouch. All but one of those touchdowns has come in the red zone. In the two weeks prior to the Bears’ Week 9 bye, they allowed the Dolphins and Patriots to complete 22-of-23 targets to their tight ends. They added five touchdowns and 140 yards after the catch for good measure. Most of that can be attributed to Rob Gronkowski, but Charles Clay and Tim Wright also enjoyed modest success against the Bears’ safeties and linebackers.
Quarless gets the nod in this matchup over Richard Rodgers. Both players are splitting time, but Quarless has been the player to “start” and see more of the work early in the game. Quarless was held without a catch in their earlier meeting with the Bears this season (the game where Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb combined for 17 catches for 221 yards and four touchdowns). He does have a history against the Bears – combining for seven catches and 65 yards in two meetings last season. Quarless won’t light the world on fire this weekend, however, he’s a cheaper option with as good a chance as anyone to catch one of Aaron Rodgers’ many touchdown passes.
Andrew Quarless Projection