The contrarian article went over so well last week that I decided to revamp it and give the concept another go this week.
Google defines contrarian as “opposing or rejecting popular opinion; going against current practice.” Popular plays are going to emerge throughout the course of the week, as they do every week, based on talented players squaring off against forgiving defenses. Of course in a nutshell the concept makes sense because using players against a weak opponent increases their chances of success. However this is the NFL and all sorts of outcomes are possible regardless of how juicy the matchup is. Heading into week 17, here are some players that the masses may be off but have a high enough probability to succeed that they are worthy of your consideration:
Carson Palmer, Cardinals – How could a player with 4,500-plus yards and 34 touchdowns (TDs) be considered a contrarian option? He’ll square off against the “Legion of Boom” (Seattle defense) at home and they have allowed the second fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks (QBs). The chalk next week is going to the usuals: Cam Newton, Ben Roethlisberger, Russell Wilson and Tom Brady with Matthew Stafford and Matt Ryan sprinkled in. These options, all with beatable matchups, will leave Carson Palmer as an afterthought. I don’t understand why considering Palmer lit up Seattle in the first meeting for 363 yards and three TDs on the road and now they’ll play in Arizona. The talent and offense is there so he’s a perfect contrarian option in a week that’s going to be filled with chaos.
Lamar Miller, Dolphins – After being allotted just nine carries in week 15, Lamar Miller carried the ball 15 times in week 16 but averaged just 2.1 yards per carry (YPC). Furthermore, the Patriots have allowed just the seventh fewest fantasy points to the running back (RB) position so the matchup hardly jumps off the page. The part I like about this matchup is the fact that the Patriots have allowed the ninth most receptions to the RB position and caught a six-week high five passes against Indianapolis last week. The last time Miller had caught more than three passes was Nov. 11 at Philadelphia so they have been ignoring one of their best player’s strengths for an extended period. Hopefully last week woke him up and they go back to the well this week. It’s clear he’ll be dealing with a committee as Jay Ajayi has been emerging recently but if he can catch five passes and receive mid-teens carries, he will possess plenty of upside despite the frustrating nature of owning him.
Tim Hightower, Saints – NFL journeyman Tim Hightower couldn’t stick with the Arizona Cardinals after the 2010 season where he battled Beanie Wells for carries. He then was traded to the Washington Redskins in 2011 and played just five games before being placed on injured reserve due to a torn ACL. For the next four years he remained out of the league until he latched on with the Saints late this season. Even in his prime he was a mediocre talent so at 29 years old it’s not like he’s aging like fine wine. With that being said, he finds himself in a perfect situation for fantasy purposes right now. Although it initially appeared like he would split carries with C.J. Spiller after the season-ending injury to Mark Ingram, the team cut Spiller last week leaving him as the true workhorse. He responded with 34-plus fantasy points including two TDs versus the Jaguars (30 total touches). So while he’s not one of those “fun” players to watch with extreme skill that can take it to the house at any point, he’s clearly in a favorable situation for fantasy. The Falcons have allowed the fifth most fantasy points to the RB position so it’s another superb matchup for the Saints’ running game. Even though he’s not the type of talent you want to use, he’s going to be worth using regardless. Do not let him go five percent owned in contests yet again this week…the ownership number last week was way too low.
T.Y. Hilton, Colts – Stephen Morris looks primed to make his first career start at QB for the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. Quite obviously this is not ideal for anyone involved on the Indianapolis offense. However you never truly know which target a new QB is going to favor and why wouldn’t he at least try to get the ball to their best player? Hilton is by no means a cash play but, if he’s going to get the ball, it’s very likely going to be on the receiving end of a bomb. Since he relies on speed, he’s the type of player that only needs one catch for a productive fantasy performance. If Morris happens to take the top off of the defense one time, you can cash in on a one to two percent ownership. It depends…”Are you feeling lucky? Well are yuh, punk?”
Rob Gronkowski, Patriots – There has been a lot of talk on Twitter this week about how Jordan Reed has been everything the general public hoped and dreamed Rob Gronkowski would be this season. Reed’s price is going to remain cheaper than Gronkowski’s price tag therefore many are going to choose taking the savings and rostering the seemingly equal producer. While the concept makes sense, the practice very easily could backfire as Gronkowski has the potential to blow up on any given week. The secret is out on Reed and the Cowboys (his opponent) have allowed the third fewest fantasy points to the tight end (TE) position. Gronkowski faces a struggling Dolphins team (lost their last three games) that has allowed the ninth most fantasy points to the position over the past two weeks (Chargers and Colts). He hasn’t put together a truly monster game in a while (last time with 100 and a TD was week 10) which is simply too long so I love him as a guy that could be criminally under-owned this week. The Patriots are still playing for the number one seed this week so look for them them to ride their best offensive weapon to victory.