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. Talent trumps matchup doesn’t mean use Tyrod Taylor against the Seattle defense—no one else will be doing it but still... It can mean use Andrew Luck against Buffalo’s defense though. The second guideline involves paying attention to the narratives of the week. 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.
Ryan Tannehill $8000: Don’t judge Buffalo’s defense on their performance vs. New England last week. This is still a good unit that should give you some pause when deciding to roster a quarterback against them. Combined with Tannehill’s lackluster start to the season against the Jaguars, the combo makes for a situation that many will avoid. We know what Tannehill is capable of however, and the receiving weapons are all in place, including the somewhat surprising emergence of Rishard Matthews. With Lamar Miller likely out, the upside for Tannehill and the passing game is even higher.
Cam Newton $7900: With one bad and one good fantasy game under his belt, many people may prefer to take a wait and see approach with Cam Newton. Will he run like he did in Week 2? Get reliable production from his receivers? Particularly Greg Olsen? I think he’ll be the player that people ignore in favor of guys like Tom Brady who are more expensive or Nick Foles, who is considerably cheaper, but Newton has equal or higher upside than anyone for Week 3 vs. the struggling Saints.
Isaiah Crowell $6600: Isaiah Crowell is everyone’s least favorite/exciting DFS option, but he has established himself as the lead back on a team with a messy quarterback situation. In his favor is the matchup with the Raiders, who have allowed three rushing touchdowns already this year, with the second most fantasy points allowed (per ESPN)—a continuation of their inability to stop the run in 2014. With a lot of value in the field for Week 3, Crowell and his elite matchup will go overlooked for DFS.
Demarco Murray $7800: Where is the real Demarco Murray? So far we haven’t come close to seeing the Murray we came to know and love from the 2014 Cowboys. He’s done nothing on the ground and while the receptions and receiving TD are nice, it’s simply not enough. Playing Murray in Week 3 against the tough Jets front line is not for the faint of heart. You are banking on his talent and the Eagles’ making successful adjustments in a situation that most will be fading.
Note: Murray injured his hamstring in Wednesday's practice and underwent an MRI. I'm not touching that this week, regardless of the results. Consider Darren Sproles ($5400) instead.
Demaryius Thomas $8400: Why roster Thomas when you can get Julio Jones or Antonio Brown for just a bit more, or Emmanuel Sanders (whom I also like), Julian Edelman and DeAndre Hopkins for less? Detroit’s defense is once again substantially better against the run and this should be a high scoring game. After a couple of worrisome outings for Peyton Manning, I think we saw enough positives from him in the passing game to rely on Thomas and/or Sanders this week. The touchdowns are coming.
Percy Harvin $5600: I would not have guessed that it would be Buffalo that made Percy Harvin fantasy relevant again. Tyrod Taylor has targeted him five times in each of the Bills’ first two games. He’ll need the touchdown(s) to really pay off, but the usage is encouraging, and Miami has allowed an above average number of fantasy points to WR dating back to last season.
Allen Robinson $6600: The Patriots are once again in a position to win with offense, not defense. Expect the Jags to come out firing to try to stay in or catch up in Sunday’s game. Blake Bortles and Allen Robinson have the chemistry and it’s been Robinson he’s looked to, with 12 targets in Week 2. Because of the spread here, many people will fade the Jaguars low team total. Robinson is all upside for his price.
Jimmy Graham $6300: Seattle plays their home opener from the unenviable 0-2 stance. They will be certainly looking for ways to adjust in a must win situation against a Bears team that fails to defend receivers effectively. Using Graham as the receiver he is is one of the first adjustments I expect to see from this offense. While I like Doug Baldwin here as well, Graham disappointed those who rostered him in Week 2 enough to drive his ownership down. Russell Wilson should be looking almost exclusively his way in the end zone.
Jared Cook $5400: The Rams’ pass game should be on your radar this week as they go up against a Pittsburgh secondary that is seemingly unconcerned with stopping anyone. It was especially on display against Rob Gronkowski in Week 1, but this is a trend that extends back to at least the start of 2014. Like the Pats, the Steelers can often get away with shoddy coverage thanks to Ben Roethlisberger and the potent offense they run, but we can still take advantage for fantasy. Nick Foles will be a popular tournament play because of the poor Steelers’ secondary and Cook represents a cheap and alternative way to get access to this offense. Cook has yet to score, but has been the top target in both games so far, and I like him for a touchdown or two this week as the Rams fight to keep pace with Pittsburgh.
Cleveland Browns $4600: As much as I like the Raiders this week, so will others and that should be one thing that helps drive down ownership of the Browns D. The Raiders run a lot of plays and that creates the opportunity to get turnovers. Baltimore’s defense failed miserably last week in Oakland, but a Browns defense at home that has forced four fumbles, recorded eight sacks, and intercepted one pass is a steady unit that can help you win.
Miami Dolphins $4600: The Dolphins are a quality football defense that isn’t always fantasy friendly. Their main strength, according to PFF grades from last year and this young season is in the pass rush. Keeping Tyrod Taylor out of rhythm could create some turnovers. I like using a defense at home and the price is fair here.