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.
Tyrod Taylor $7700: Taylor continues to step up with strong play despite myriad injuries to his team, bad calls, and the struggle of playing in the AFC East. The Bills are playing for pride now, and host a Dallas Cowboys team headed by Kellen Moore, who will be aiming to prove himself too. Dual threat QBs like Taylor are often undervalued, and the loss of LeSean McCoy and Robert Woods might have some people looking elsewhere. I think Taylor is especially attractive given the soft Cowboys’ run defense, and like him to score a rushing TD this week. Buffalo is the decent home favorite.
Russell Wilson $8800: Wilson is amazing, but I think he’s been so good that people are at the “he can’t continue like this for another week” phase. Plus, cheaper quarterbacks like Blake Bortles have better matchups on paper. I think Wilson playing in Seattle is above any matchup right now and this team is so in sync that they are still very fantasy relevant. They are heavily favored and the onus is firmly on Wilson’s shoulders to get them that big lead with the run game in shambles.
Alfred Morris $5800: The Washington passing game (see below), particularly Jordan Reed, will get a lot of love this week, but the Eagles make for an interesting running back matchup. They allow a ton of yards to opposing backs, but few touchdowns until recently. Arizona, Buffalo and Detroit combined to score 5 rushing TDs in the past four games. Morris has dominated the Redskins backfield all year in touches, and while he isn’t always very efficient, he did average 6 YPC last week vs. Buffalo.
Ameer Abdullah $5300: The Detroit run game has been as ugly as the Redskins; it’s kind of hard to go contrarian here this weekend. That said, the Lions get an even better matchup with the 49ers, who have allowed opposing backs the second-most fantasy points this season. Abdullah can be expected to get 10-15 carries for them, and haul in 1-2 catches. With that volume-and it could/should be more, even with Joique Bell involved, Abdullah can reach value against the 49ers in Detroit.
Donte Moncrief $6300: Moncrief (and Matt Hasselbeck) made an enemy of me by failing catastrophically at a critical point in my main season long 2 QB league, but DFS is all about forgive and forget. Moncrief finds himself in a great matchup situation with Miami cornerback Tony Lippett, a top rated combination in Mike Clay’s WR-CB chart for Week 16. He got back on track last week, going 5/51/1, and I look for him to build on that regardless of whether it’s Hasselbeck or Andrew Luck throwing to him in Week 16. The upside is always there for Moncrief, but so is the risk.
DeSean Jackson $6800: A matchup with the Eagles is fantasy gold for opposing wide receivers, and Jackson has been solid in four of five games since Week 11 after easing back to action following his early season hamstring injury. He’s had 4 TDs and averaged nearly 100 yards per game in that span. I include him here despite all the obvious positives because he’s widely hated by fantasy owners thanks to years of let down performances and inconsistency. I’m trusting him this week, but his ownership will probably be lower than it should.
Julius Thomas $6500: Consider this the Golden Tate play of Week 16. As everyone flocks to roster Allen Robinson, a great play, Julius Thomas’ ownership will plummet. The big tight end has terrific TD upside (four in the past five games), and is tied for fifth among TEs in fantasy points per snap (per PFF). He gets the league best TE matchup with New Orleans in what is projected by Vegas as the highest scoring game of the week.
Jason Witten $5500: Witten is a forgotten man, but Kellen Moore may breathe some life into the veteran over the last two weeks of the season. With Moore more or less auditioning for the Cowboys, he’s likely to throw a lot and Witten has been a reliable target in this offense forever. Witten has the highest catch rate among TEs with at least 30 receptions (78%), making him the guy I’d throw to in this Cowboys offense if I were trying to impress my coaches. The Bills are an average defensive matchup for TEs.
DET $4600: The 49ers have struggled mightily to score all season long and while they don’t make a ton of mistakes, they have given opposing defenses the third-most fantasy points of the season. On the road in Detroit should be no exception. Don’t overlook the fantasy correlation between RB and DEF this week.
MIA $4700: The team facing Indianapolis always gets a mention here, as the Colts give up the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing defenses. They lead the league in turnovers (29), and while Miami’s defense hasn’t been exactly what we thought at the beginning of the season, they have done well against poor offenses.