The Contrarian is back to help you find some potential diamonds in the rough to help round out your tournament lineups for Week 15. Before digging into this week’s selections, let’s take a look at some of the games and matchups that may fall off the radar for the masses and contain some of this week’s hidden gems. We’ll begin our quest with the week’s projected lower scoring affairs.
This Week’s Projected Low-Scoring Games
- Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings. Vikings -6, 43. Both squads have hit a late season wall and enter the game riding two-game losing streaks.
- Houston Texans @ Indianapolis Colts. Colts -2, 42. Someone has to win the AFC South.
- Kansas City Chiefs @ Baltimore Ravens. Chiefs -7, 41. A decimated Ravens team welcomes a red-hot Chiefs team to town.
- Cleveland Browns @ Seattle Seahawks. Seahawks -15, 43. The Seahawks are peaking and this year’s version of the team no one wants to face in the playoffs while the Browns move closer to being on the clock.
- Cincinnati Bengals @ San Francisco 49ers. Bengals -6, 40 ½. We’ll have a better indication of how quickly Andy Dalton’s thumb will heal after watching how A.J. McCarron performs with a full game at the helm.
Two of the offenses from the above games stand out, but both will carry similar risk. The Chiefs and Seahawks are both rolling and sizeable favorites in their respective games. Their offenses should be able to do plenty of damage against struggling teams, but the risk of a blowout in both games tempers the enthusiasm a bit. Adrian Peterson will have plenty of supporters for Sunday’s game against the Bears, while DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green will see their ownership percentages impacted due to question marks at quarterback for their respective teams.
Matchups That Will Scare People Off
- Broncos vs. QBs. The Broncos have been stout defensively all season, but have allowed multiple passing touchdowns in two of their last three.
- Seahawks vs. RBs. For the season, the Seahawks have allowed a total of 860 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
- Panthers vs. WRs. Josh Norman vs. Odell Beckham Jr Jr. will be worth the price of admission alone.
- Patriots vs. TEs. Only four tight ends have found the end zone against the Patriots in 2015.
- Packers vs. DEF. The Packers rarely allow opposing defenses to even sniff at double digits in points.
Outside of the Seahawks vs. RBs, all of the above matchups offer up some intrigue. The Broncos have allowed five passing touchdowns over their last three games – how might they fare against a high-powered Steelers offense? Can the Patriots continue holding opposing tight ends in check or will the heavily-targeted Delanie Walker be able to find some success? The Raiders were one of the top performing defenses of Week 14 – can they find similar success against a Packers offense that is simply not as imposing as it once was?
The heavyweight matchup of Norman vs. Beckham Jr. is one of the more intriguing storylines of Week 15. It’s generally a smart move to fade a player facing off against the Panthers shutdown corner, but can he really contain a wideout that’s playing at such a high level? We can expect Beckham Jr.’s ownership percentage to be impacted due to the matchup and his standing at the top of the wide receiver salary list, making him somewhat of a contrarian play this week.
Last Week’s Disappointments
- PIT QB Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers picked up a big win against the Bengals, but Roethlisberger delivered a disappointing 10.88 points.
- KC RB Charcandrick West. A committee approach in the Chiefs backfield and a game impacted by the elements led West to his third consecutive week of less than 10 points.
- JAX WR Allen Robinson. A week after a monster line of 10/153/3, Robinson delivered us 1/4/1.
- CAR TE Greg Olsen. Olsen went down with an injury against the Falcons and was unable to revel in the festivities of a 38-0 Panthers victory.
- 49ers DEF. The 49ers were a featured flavor of the week against the Browns, but left many with a sour taste in their mouths.
We have a couple of interesting bounce back candidates that we’ll cover down below. As always, it’s important to have a short memory in the world of DFS. Last week’s zeroes can quickly turn into this week’s heroes and vice versa. For disappointing performances from the prior week, it’s imperative to dig into the results and determine if it was simply a bad week for varying reasons or the sign of bigger problems ahead for the player’s potential fantasy output. Many will simply write-off a player they have been burned by, offering us a great chance to catch a lowly-owned player with a strong bounce back performance.
On to this week’s top contrarian candidates, we have some players that fit into the above categories and several that required a little more extensive digging. All will provide varying levels of risk and some may be outside of your comfort zone, but some well-managed risk can pay off handsomely when all is said and done. We’ll start Week 15’s quest for hidden gems with the quarterback position.
Philip Rivers, $5,500
Rivers was an early season fantasy darling that has fallen on some hard times due to a receiving corps that resembles an infirmary unit and some well-documented struggles with the Chargers offensive line. By registering less than 10 points in each of his last three, Rivers is pretty well off the radar for DFS purposes. He could be in line for a nice bounce back against a Dolphins team that has been torched by opposing signal callers in two of the last three. On the narrative front, this could be the Chargers final home game in San Diego, depending on how the offseason chess game of franchise relocation plays out. Look for Rivers to return to his early season fantasy darling status, even if only for a week.
Ben Roethlisberger, $6,400
We touched on the Broncos pass defense allowing its fair share of touchdowns of late earlier. The high-powered Steelers offense could be a sneaky good play this week, especially when factoring in the possibility of a healthy amount of three and outs from Brock Osweiler and Co. The plethora of weapons at Roethlisberger’s disposal should be able to take full advantage of some tired legs on defense. As one of last week’s disappointments and with an imposing defense up next on the docket, many will bypass Roethlisberger this week, leading us to an intriguing contrarian candidate with plenty of upside.
Charcandrick West, $4,800
West was dynamite a few weeks back when he took over the lead back role due to the season-ending injury suffered by Jamaal Charles. He suffered an injury of his own and returned to find himself in a committee situation with Spencer Ware, who staked his claim to some more carries in the absence of West. Alas, it’s Ware’s turn to be banged and although he may play, he’s nowhere near 100%. Look for West to receive the lions-share of the work against a vulnerable Ravens defense and to have little trouble returning value on his low price.
DeAngelo Williams, $6,600
Williams will also be overlooked due to the impending date with the Broncos, but similar to Roethlisberger presents some intriguing and sneaky upside for Week 15. Flash back to Week 12 against the Seahawks for a moment: while Williams was relatively held in check on the ground by the imposing run defense (8/29/1), he more than made up for it through the air (7/88/0). We could see a similar scenario play out on Sunday as the Steelers deal with the challenging Broncos run defense. Williams has scored 20+ points for three consecutive games and could make it four in a row in an under the radar fashion against the Broncos.
Sammy Watkins, $6,200
Over the past three weeks, Watkins has hauled in 18 passes for 348 yards and four scores. He’s developed an outstanding rapport with Tyrod Taylor and should be in line for an even bigger bump in targets due to the absence of Charles Clay. Washington has been a Jekyll and Hyde team all season and we’re unlikely to figure them out anytime soon, but Watkins offers us a floor of 3x value and the potential for much more at a reasonable price.
A.J. Green, $7,900
The enthusiasm for A.J. Green has been pretty muted this week due to the loss of Andy Dalton, but Green actually performed pretty well with A.J. McCarron behind center last week, hauling in five of his passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. Top that off with Tyler Eifert being ruled out for Sunday’s game with a concussion and a date with a 49ers team that does not exactly strike fear into the heart of opponents and we have ourselves a pretty good spot for one of the league’s top wideouts. Green has scored 24+ points in three consecutive games and could be in line for more of the same this week, but with a much lower ownership percentage than normal.
Delanie Walker, $5,600
The consensus belief is that the Patriots will have their way with the Titans on Sunday and it’s pretty tough to argue with that logic. As 14-point favorites, they’ll likely be up pretty big and force the Titans into air it out mode in an attempt to keep pace, presenting a nice opportunity for some garbage time points for Walker. Garbage time aside, the heavily-targeted tight end will be a factor in the passing game and have little trouble returning 3x value, with the upside of a 4x return definitely on the table.
Antonio Gates, $4,600
The Dolphins have been pretty strong against the tight end position in 2015 and Gates has only found the end zone on four occasions. But as we discussed earlier with Philip Rivers, the Dolphins have been vulnerable against the pass, offering us some nice upside for his most trusted target. The four touchdowns Gates has scored came in two multiple touchdown outings earlier this season. We’ll place a day like that on the table as the potential upside and look for a floor of a 3x return while he flies under the radar.
Pittsburgh Steelers, $2,700
The Steelers make their third appearance on Week 15’s contrarian list and this could be the most intriguing play of the bunch. They have scored at least 16.0 points in three of their last four and will face of with a Broncos team that has been offensively challenged of late. Just last week, the Raiders held the Broncos to 12 points, forced two turnovers and sacked Brock Osweiler five times. The Steelers are certainly capable of matching that output based on their recent play and present an intriguing low-cost alternative to the highly-owned and more expensive defenses of Week 15.
Oakland Raiders, $2,000
Speaking of the Raiders, they will certainly fly under the radar with a date with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers up next on the docket. Factor in the Packers rarely allowing double digit points to opposing defenses and we can confidently pencil in the Raiders as one of Week 15’s lowest owned defenses. This is definitely a pick of the boom-bust variety, but the Raiders defense does have some upside as evidenced by last week’s 15.0 points. Can they capture lightning in a bottle for a second consecutive week? For $2,000, we can free up a ton of salary cap space while we watch and find out.
That takes care of The Contrarian for Week 15 and our search for this week’s hidden gems. A few simple pivots away from the week’s top chalk plays can be all it takes to have your lineups climb up the leaderboards. Best of luck this weekend!