If you have been following Rotoworld Daily’s MLB or NBA Pivot columns over the past season, then you already know the drill. If not, I recommend you do so. Also, please read the following description to gain a sense of what this article strives to provide.
The purpose of this column is to pinpoint widely held selections at every position. I will then outline some sneaky pivot plays (with lower ownership rates) for large-field tournament consideration. Essentially, it’s your traditional “GPP/Tournament Picks” article with an emphasis on getting away from those groupthink selections of the week.
In other words, I’m playing devil’s advocate in going against the grain. Hopefully, this will help find some lower-owned pivot plays to accompany the popular, well-aligned picks in your FanDuel lineups. You don’t necessarily have to be “different” across the board to field a high-upside team. However, mixing in a few sneaky picks with a low ownership rate could be the difference between a good and great result.
Just so we are on the same page, this article will focus on Sunday only plays (nothing from Thursday or Monday).
Pivot 1: Cam Newton – Carolina (FanDuel Price: $8,100)
Cam didn’t have a great fantasy game against a tough Arizona defense last week. Truth be told, his stat line could’ve been much better, as Jonathan Stewart recorded a pair of rushing touchdowns instead of Newton getting in on at least one of those. His opponent this week, the Rams, have a mediocre defense that shouldn’t scare you away. They are stiff against the run, which could funnel more attempts, yards, and fantasy points to the arm of Newton. Of course, the rushing upside is always nice anytime Cam is in your lineup. I’m looking for a solid bounce-back performance here.
Pivot 2: Marcus Mariota – Tennessee (FanDuel Price: $7,600)
There’s some concern with Mariota playing on the road, but he has fantasy upside along with some of the best quarterbacks in the NFL right now. The Chargers’ defense has several key injuries at the moment, making them less intimidating than the rankings suggest. Outside of Aaron Rodgers and maybe Dak Prescott, it’s difficult to have genuine trust in any other quarterback in the main slate. When looking at things that way, it makes sense to take a risk/reward pick like Mariota in tournaments, as he could provide 10 fantasy points on the ground alone – in conjunction with 250 yards and a pair of touchdowns through the air.
Pivot 1: Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh (FanDuel Price: $8,700)
Ezekiel Elliott is getting all the love at running back this week. Sure, he has an excellent matchup, but Dak could realistically absorb most of the scoring opportunities against Cleveland. If that’s the case, it could benefit to diversify against Elliott in tournaments, and the ever-dangerous likes of Le’Veon Bell will probably be underutilized. Bell has tremendous upside in any given week, and the expected return of Ben Roethlisberger will help. Even though the Ravens look solid on defense at this point in the season, I’m expecting Bell to churn out a nice fantasy line with heavy volume running and receiving.
Pivot 2: Melvin Gordon – San Diego (FanDuel Price: $7,800)
Tennessee ranks fifth against the run this season, and most people will avoid Melvin Gordon for that reason. However, the game flow aligns very well for the second-year back, as San Diego checks in as stable home favorites. Not only that, but Gordon is pretty much a guarantee for heavy volume as the Chargers only real running threat. If Travis Benjamin is out, that could funnel even more underneath targets in the passing game towards Gordon. Remember, Gordon has done pretty well in difficult matchups before, gaining 205 yards rushing in two games against the stout Broncos defense. Don’t count him out just because the matchup isn’t perfect.
Pivot 1: Mike Wallace – Baltimore (FanDuel Price: $6,600)
Wallace has been quietly producing as of late, seeing a whopping 43 targets over the past four weeks. His last two games against the Giants and Jets have resulted in a cumulative 14 receptions for 217 yards. It’s no coincidence that the spike in targets, receptions, and yards have come with fellow WR Steve Smith sidelined. At the publishing time of this article (Thursday afternoon), Smith has yet to practice this week. Keep an eye on the veteran’s status moving towards Sunday. If Smith is out, Wallace makes for an attractive play in all formats. He would see heavy volume against a burnable Pittsburgh secondary.
Pivot 2: Cole Beasley – Dallas (FanDuel Price: $6,300)
Dez Bryant is back and seeing a ton of targets from QB Dak Prescott. That doesn’t mean Beasley will fall into fantasy oblivion. The rookie QB has always had a soft spot for his slot receivers, and Beasley could find plenty of room to operate against a Cleveland defense that ranks 25th overall against the pass. Beasley has found the end-zone three times in as many weeks, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he snags another one in what shapes up to be his best matchup of the season.
Pivot 3: Tyrell Williams – San Diego (FanDuel Price: $5,600)
Williams was held in check by Denver’s outstanding secondary last week, but he’s in a great bounce-back spot against Tennessee’s mediocre defensive backfield. The Titans rank 20th against the pass this season, and the Chargers’ passing attack tends to perform much better at home. Not only that, but Williams could see a ton of targets if fellow WR Travis Benjamin (highly questionable) doesn’t play. If that’s the case, Williams has potential to repeat his week seven performance of 7-140 at Atlanta.
Pivot: Jesse James – Pittsburgh (FanDuel Price: $5,100)
James was a coveted value pick earlier in the season. He struggled with Ben Roethlisberger injured, which isn’t much of a surprised. Following the bye week with expectations of Roethlisberger returning under center, James could resume his fantasy-friendly ways. The matchup against Baltimore doesn’t look great on paper, but James should see enough targets (and red-zone looks) to warrant fantasy consideration.