Week 8 is in the rearview mirror but it’s always helpful to look back at the week that was for DFS and see if there’s any wisdom we can glean from past performances and how some of the big tournaments shook out. We’ve been tackling the tournament aspect over the past several weeks by taking a look back at the Millionaire Maker tournament. As we’ve come to expect, the Top 10 lineups for Week 8 were littered with unique players. Last week, we established three players as a pretty good baseline to shoot for in terms of unique players. As luck would have it, things were thrown askew in Week 8 – both on the scoreboards and in the number of unique players needed to achieve maximum results.
Four of the Top 10 finishers in last week’s Millionaire Maker featured four players with less than 10% ownership, including the top two lineups. The remainder of the Top 10 featured either five or six players, leaving our comfortable number of three nowhere to be found on the Top 10. As we’ve previously mentioned, there is no magic answer for the right number of unique players. Each week is different, with its own questions, answers and curveballs thrown in for good measure.
There were several stellar individual fantasy performances last week, led off by Drew Brees and Eli Manning auditioning for inclusion in the Big 12 Conference of College Football. Brees threw for seven touchdowns while Manning threw for six, helping them to accumulate 50.54 and 41.0 points respectively. Brees was owned on 3.2% of all rosters while Manning was owned on 3.7%. In a nutshell, Brees and Manning owners had themselves a nice week, provided there were no leaks in their lineups. Incredibly, the Top 29 lineups had one or the other as their quarterback last week – 28 went Brees, while one went for Manning.
The points fest that was the Giants at Saints obviously skewed several things for last week. Outlier games will happen, it’s just a little surprising that both quarterbacks were so lowly-owned. The game was projected to be one of the higher-scoring games of the week, which typically makes players from that game a popular selection. We’ll chalk that game up as a great memory for the 2015 season, but won’t let it impact our decision making too much. Three still stands as a solid baseline for the number of unique players unless proven otherwise, with a pivot to four unique players when a week looks to be pretty high-scoring or a pivot down to two when there look to be a bunch of tight, low-scoring games.
On to this week’s contrarian selections, we have a good mix of players in solid matchups that just aren’t receiving any love this week and players that are producing but flying under the radar. Let’s take a look at this week’s picks, starting with the quarterback position.
Tyrod Taylor, $5,300
Word on the streets is that Tyrod Taylor will be 100% heading into Sunday’s game against the Dolphins and that’s fantastic news for the Bills, their faithful and DFS aficionados everywhere. Taylor sits at a bargain basement price of $5,300, a fantastic price point for a quarterback that can burn opponents through the air and on the ground.
Flashing back to Week 3, Taylor burned the same Dolphins team for three touchdowns on his way to 24.28 points. The Dolphins have improved since then, but Taylor may still be too much a matchup nightmare for them to handle. Look for Rex Ryan to have the team properly motivated coming in off of their bye week for a key divisional matchup and for Taylor to provide a healthy return on his low salary.
Peyton Manning, $6,300
Who doesn’t like a good story? Canton-bound Broncos quarterback realizes his limitations and leans on the ground game and defense to help him capture some rings before riding off into the sunset. That narrative worked out pretty well for John Elway, we still have some time for that to play out with Peyton Manning. In the interim, Manning has a shot at becoming the NFL’s all-time passing yardage leader in front of his former employer.
The Broncos bye week in Week 7 did wonders for Manning, who responded by throwing for 340 yards in Week 8 against the Packers. No promises that we’ll see another 300+ yard performance, but he only needs 284 yards to break the record. Even a humble and unassuming Manning would want to pull that off in front of his former boss and perhaps find a way to throw a couple into the end zone in the process.
Chris Ivory, $5,900
Chris Ivory seems to be flying under the radar a bit this week, but perhaps he shouldn’t be. He put up a stinker along with the rest of the Jets during last week’s painful loss on the West Coast to the Raiders, but he’s still averaging 18.1 points per game. The Jaguars have had their struggles against the running game this season, including two monster performances: Week 3 by the Patriots and Week 5 by the Buccaneers. A little home cooking should be just the thing to get the Jets back on track. The Jets may also lean on the running game a bit more this week due to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s injured thumb. Ivory could be on track for a performance that exceeds his average output.
C.J. Spiller, $3,100
The door is open for C.J. Spiller to begin having an impact for the Saints. Khiry Robinson is out for the season with a leg injury, which leaves Mark Ingram II firmly in control of the backfield, but opens up some more chances for Spiller in a change of pace role. Spiller has to be chomping at the bit for the opportunity to flash some of his signature explosiveness on the carpet in the Superdome. For a price of $3,100, one long home run can provide a handsome return on investment. Even without a long home run, look for Spiller to make his presence felt when given the opportunity.
Demaryius Thomas, $7,500
If you’re buying on Peyton Manning this week, why not look to one of his top targets for an under the radar stacking opportunity? Thomas is in the midst of a bit of a resurgence in his own right with back-to-back 20+ point outings which have seen him surpass 100 yards receiving in consecutive weeks. If we’re looking for Manning to rack up some decent yardage and maybe find the end zone once or twice, we can expect Thomas to have a big hand in the festivities. Thomas provides a little bit of a discount from the more expensive receivers, but has just as much upside at a lower price point.
Michael Crabtree, $4,900
Michael Crabtree has quietly come back to life and is a key cog in an improving Raiders offense. He is tops on the team in targets and provides a nice complement to rookie sensation Amari Cooper. Derek Carr has been on a hot streak with seven touchdown tosses over the past two games and 15 total for the season. Sunday’s game with the Steelers checks in with a projected total of 48 points with the Steelers favored by 4 ½ points, pointing us to a game script in which the Raiders will be throwing the ball to make up the deficit. Look for Crabtree to receive plenty of targets and perhaps we’ll see a little bit of a shootout between Ben Roethlisberger and an up-and-coming Carr.
Delanie Walker, $4,200
The Titans are the latest club to take the plunge on an in-season coaching change. Mike Mularkey takes his turn at the helm and is essentially auditioning for the permanent gig and hoping to show that the long-term development of Marcus Mariota would be best served with Mularkey’s continued employment. Look for the Titans to employ a game plan that sets Mariota up for success and calls for him to rely on the tight end position, which can be a rookie quarterbacks best friend. Delanie Walker is already second on the team in targets and we can look for him to push for the top spot this week.
Heath Miller, $2,700
We already mentioned that the Steelers and Raiders game could be a potential shootout. Miller represents a great way to gain some exposure to the game at a rock bottom price. The return of Ben Roethlisberger last week led to Miller’s finest game of the season as he hauled in 10 catches for 105 yards. I’m not sure that we get there again, but half of that plus a trip to the end zone will provide a fantastic return on his low price.
Buffalo Bills, $2,900
The expected dominance of the Bills defense has yet to materialize in 2015, but we can look for a marked improvement as the team comes in off of their bye week. As we mentioned when discussing Tyrod Taylor, it’s a pretty safe bet that Rex Ryan will have the team properly motivated for a key divisional matchup in front of a raucous crowd. The Bills get the nod as this week’s potential hidden gem at defense that could pay off come handsome dividends.
New Orleans Saints, $2,200
The Saints get the nod for the other contrarian defense selection. They are one of the cheapest defenses of the week and have a potentially juicy matchup in front of them as they face a Titans squad that has been struggling offensively and just made a coaching side. There is some risk here due to the coaching change as you never know exactly how the team is going to respond. We could see an inspired performance like we saw from the Miami Dolphins or we could see a listless team that is just looking to play out the string. This is not a simple plug-and-play contrarian decision; you’ll have to determine which side of the argument you lean more towards before making the call.
That brings The Contrarian to a close for another week. We have gone position by position to help you find a little uniqueness for your rosters. As we’ve seen from looking back at the Millionaire Maker tournaments, just the right amount of uniqueness can make a world of difference for your rosters. Best of luck this weekend!