You always hear that you have to be contrarian to win tournaments. What’s it mean? And how do you do it? Well, it means that you have to use players that aren’t obvious. You avoid using all of the players with the most talent in the best matchups and look for guys that are going to be owned by a smaller percentage of the field. That way, if they do well, not everyone benefits and you move past the field toward the top of the leaderboard.
There is a fine line between contrarian and stupid. We want good plays that are under the radar, exploitable situations that not everyone believes are exploitable. A couple of guidelines that I adhere to, and I’m a conservative player for the most part, are as follows: 1) talent trumps matchup and 2) go against the narratives. Who’s too old, who’s in a ‘revenge’ game, who sucks in his (three) primetime games? Use the old player (especially early in the season), fade the revenge game, and ignore small samples.
Now that we’re in bye weeks, a guy could be contrarian just because we are more focused on players that we watched last week. It sounds hard to believe, but it’s true…recency bias is strong. A lot of high scoring games in Week 9 should help to spread the ownership around. People will flock to injury replacements this week so one way to be different may be just to use a healthy guy in a solid situation.
Marcus Mariota $7100: Things are looking good for Mariota to play on Sunday and he gets the best quarterback matchup of all in the Saints. They’ve allowed 20 passing touchdowns to opponents so far this season, literally making every opponent they’ve faced look like gold. Mariota went out on a bad note…he was struggling before he hurt his knee and then stayed in to be even more ineffective. Other than the game in which he was hurt, however, he was pretty steady, kicking the season off with 8 TDs in his first three games. If and only if Mariota is fully healthy, I like the matchup enough to roll with him and Delanie Walker in tournaments.
Tyrod Taylor $7200: TyGod was close to returning before the bye so I think he’s in great shape this weekend. He was terrific facing Miami in Florida a few weeks ago and now gets them in Buffalo. Taylor didn’t have a bad game before hurting his knee…ranging from about 16 to 25 FanDuel points with PFF’s best efficiency rating of 0.63 fantasy points per dropback. The Bills have plenty of talent, they just need a leader and getting Taylor back should be a boost for this entire team coming off the bye.
DeMarco Murray $7500: Running back is definitely going to be a spot where people chase value opened up by injuries. In the meantime, Murray has shown that he can still rake against bad defenses, but is coming off a bad game vs. Carolina and a bye week, so I think he’ll be a little bit off the radar this week. He gets Dallas, who has given up the fifth most fantasy points to running backs. Philadelphia needs to rely on the run game more given how many errors they’re making through the air. I’m swinging for the fences with some Murray redemption from the Week 2 debacle. Double revenge!
Mark Ingram $7700: There’s no reason for Ingram to go unheralded this week, and maybe he won’t be very low-owned…it’s hard to predict early in the week. But like I said before, attention will be on new opportunity/value or Devonta Freeman this week. Ingram has a great matchup in a high scoring game where his team is heavily favored, he likely gets more carries with Khiry Robinson out and he’s fairly priced. The Titans look like a tough matchup on paper but that’s mostly due to whom they’ve played. They have given up nice lines to “real” backs like Lamar Miller and Devonta Freeman over the past couple weeks. Ingram has a high enough floor to use in cash games, but I like him in any format this week.
Mike Evans $7500: Most of the focus this week will be on the other side of the field, with people chasing the Eli Manning—Odell Beckham Jr. fireworks, and with good reason. The Bucs are the second best QB matchup in terms of fantasy points and Eli and OBJ are as tightly linked as any pair in the league in terms of value. Let’s not forget so quickly what Drew Brees just did to the Giants secondary though. I don’t think Evans scores 7 TDs or anything, but I do think he is the primary receiving option in Tampa Bay and that Winston is good enough to give him another break out week.
Randall Cobb $7400: This price for Cobb is right on the line. Green Bay just failed on a huge stage and failed like we’ve really never seen in the Aaron Rodgers era. The Denver defense is really that good. Unfortunately, the Carolina defense is no slouch either. Rodgers is 100 times the quarterback Andrew Luck is and I think he’ll bounce back this week. Expect Cobb to be targeted heavily here as usual and especially because Josh Norman usually covers an outside receiver. PFF has Cobb’s cornerback matchup with Bene Benwikere rated as the second best on the week.
Charles Clay $5700: Clay’s chemistry with Taylor was excellent prior to his knee injury. I’m excited to take advantage of these two in tournaments as they return to action off the bye. Clay has accounted for about 25% of Taylor’s passing yards so far this season. The last time Clay caught a touchdown was in Miami, when he went 5/82/1. He makes for a nice pivot from Heath Miller if you’re saving at TE this week.
Jacob Tamme $5200: The emergence of Tamme has been overshadowed by the emergence of Devonta Freeman in Atlanta, but this Falcons team is using a tight end again, folks. Tamme is now averaging six receptions over his last four games and went over 100 yards with a touchdown in Week 8. He’s a bit risky, because tight ends haven’t fared well this season against the 49ers. However, the San Francisco defense is so bad that I think you can pass to anyone you want to against them. Look for Tamme to have another solid day.
Denver $5300: They are contrarian simply because no one likes to pay top dollar for a defense. Plus the masses will be on Atlanta with the news that Blaine Gabbert will start at QB for SF. Denver is the best defense in the league with 17 total takeaways and 29 sacks…and they get to play the turnover machine that is Andrew Luck this week. Indianapolis trails only Detroit with 19 turnovers this season and although Luck was good enough to overcome it last year, this is a trend we’ve seen for a while. I can find the extra $400 to fit the Broncos into my lineups this week.