Sometimes when constructing a daily fantasy football roster, you are able to fit most of the players that feel like staples. However, if spending up on certain positions, then salary will assuredly need to be saved on others by default. Here are a group of players listed at bargain costs who will help fill in the missing pieces of a mostly-constructed lineup:
Note: Each position includes a player who is expected to be highly owned amongst the value plays at the position (chalk) and one who will likely go vastly overlooked but still is worthy of consideration (contrarian).
Chalk: Dak Prescott, Cowboys, $10,000 – If you’ve been following along with articles in the Locker Room all week, you already know I am all-aboard the Dak Prescott train in cash games. For a dual-threat QB, meaning he is able to beat defenses with both his arm and his leg, he is incredibly cheap. The argument for Cam Newton as fantasy’s top QB on a yearly basis is his ability to rush the football and therefore create a stable floor (and higher ceiling than someone like a Drew Brees who rarely leaves the pocket). By comparison, a passing touchdown (TD) is worth the equivalent of 40 rushing yards, so it’s no wonder rushing QBs are in such high demand. Combine the skill-set with a decent matchup against a secondary who lost cornerback Prince Amukamara and all the makings are there for Prescott to compete for the top fantasy-point-per-dollar performer of the week at the position. If he duds, he is still a bad play at the price tag, which is why going contrarian at the position isn’t such a terrible idea…especially considering this a guy who will be making his first career start.
Contrarian: Carson Wentz, Eagles, $10,000 – Speaking of guys in their first career start, literally no one is talking about Carson Wentz. Football twitter seems torn on whether Jared Goff or Carson Wentz was worthy of the number one overall pick, and if just judging by preseason, Wentz gets the nod. In his career debut, Wentz literally will have to opportunity to play one of the worst few defenses in all of football. If Prescott were playing the Browns in the opener, he might be 100-percent owned in cash games. Still, no one is mentioning the Eagles QB despite the fact he is also minimum priced and the Eagles are listed as 3.5 point favorites at home. While the weapons surrounding him aren’t elite by any means, his safety blankets are both more than serviceable: Darren Sproles and Zach Ertz. The team plans to feature Sproles in the passing game and if he gets in open space he is gone. Essentially a routine pass could turn into big points for Wentz at any point, and if under pressure, he has two reliable dump-down targets. He’s a nice way to differentiate from Prescott in GPPs without having to adjust the rest of the lineup as they are listed as the exact same price.
Running Back (RB)
Chalk: Spencer Ware, Chiefs, $8,700 – Spencer Ware is still worth starting in cash games but the situation is getting murkier by the minute. Remember Ware was given some substantial workloads at the end of last season and he didn’t eclipse 20 fantasy points after Week 12. In fact, he didn’t even catch a pass after Week 12 either, so it’s pretty clear we’re talking about a player with limited upside. Even so, the workload is going to be there as I have him projected at about 18 touches, including goal line work. He is the epitome of a player worth using in cash games due to his likely high floor but the threat of both Charcandrick West eating into his workload and his low ceiling are enough to warrant a fade elsewhere.
Contrarian: James White, Patriots, $7,100 – Here are the RBs Bill Belichick and the Patriots decided to keep on the roster: LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden, D.J. Foster and James White…and supposedly Blount and Tyler Gaffney had to battle for the final spot. Although Tom Brady won’t start the season, White quietly caught 40 passes in 14 games last year in a limited role alongside Brady. Now, with Dion Lewis inactive from the get-go, White’s role should only expand. Sure the Patriots RBs are frustrating in theory but one usually is productive enough on a weekly basis to warrant a roster spot…the question always is, “which one?” Only three teams allowed fewer rushing yards to opposing backs than the Cardinals last year and they only allowed seven rushing TDs. Contrastingly, the Cardinals allowed the 13th most receiving yards to opposing backs in 2015. When scheming against them, it makes more sense to get a back out in space rather than just running into the heart of the beast. FantasyDraft’s scoring is conducive to backs who play a part in the passing game because the site rewards each reception with one fantasy point (or the same as 10 rushing yards). White doesn’t need to do much to pay off at this price tag and his ceiling could be 80 catches this season. If he decides to start producing early, he would be a steal at this price.
Wide Receiver (WR)
Chalk: Marvin Jones, Lions, $9,100 – With Vontae Davis officially listed as inactive and expected to miss the first month, the solid matchups for Lions receivers got even better. While the Davis news probably affects Golden Tate to a larger extent, Vegas continues to expect this contest to be a shootout. The over/under for this game is projected at 51.5 points and the Lions are implied to score 24.3 points. Amazingly, Matthew Stafford has attempted at least 592 passes in each of his last five seasons and he has only dipped below 7.0 yards per attempt (YPA) once during that span (2012). Sans the Hall-of-Famer Calvin Johnson, there is quite a bit of production that needs to be spread around. He was an absolute monster in terms of eating up targets and scoring TDs, so the team is going to have to find alternatives this year. Jones is the only receiver on the team to ever score double-digit TDs before other than 35-year old Anquan Boldin (and he did it in 2008). Therefore, it’s reasonable to infer a healthy amount of the production will be headed Jones’ way and the price tag does not accurately reflect the most expansive role of Jones’ career. Jones is in for a big season and a big Week 1 so he is going to be rightfully popular in all formats.
Contrarian: Tajae Sharpe, Titans, $6,000 – If the Vontae Davis news improves anyone’s matchup, it is Golden Tate’s, so there is a case to be made for fading Jones in GPPs. Assuming you want to go in a different direction, or even complement Jones with another solid value, Tajae Sharpe fits the bill after a solid preseason. When all said and done, Tajae Sharpe caught nine passes for 163 yards (eighth most of any player in the preseason), eight of which came in the first two games working with Marcus Mariota. Earlier this week, Mariota was quoted as saying Sharpe “makes it easy” on him after Coach Mike Mularkey came out two weeks ago and said Sharpe “already gained the trust” of Mariota. There is a bit of a love connection going on here so all the vibes are good. For virtually minimum price, it sounds like Sharpe should be targeted like a typical starting receiver. The matchup isn’t ideal against Terrace Newman who rated as Pro Football Focus’ 39th best cornerback in 2015 but that isn’t exactly Patrick Peterson either. TE Delanie Walker handily led the team in receptions last year but that was partially due to lack of alternatives. Sharpe should give him a run for his money this year yet is priced like a scrub. It wouldn’t be surprising if Sharpe proves to be the best value at the position in Week 1.
Tight Ends (TE)
Chalk: Dwayne Allen, Colts, $6,400 – For the lone TE on a team implied to score the highest point total of the weekend, Dwayne Allen is awfully cheap. It’s like the pricing algorithm totally overlooked the fact Coby Fleener left for the Saints in the offseason and now all the targets at the position will be headed Allen’s way. In 2014, Andrew Luck’s best season as a pro, Allen caught eight TDs despite only catching 29 passes overall. If Luck is able to come anywhere close to his 2014 form, Allen could be in for a monstrous season. In what is almost assuredly going to end up as a shootout, Allen possesses similar upside to any TE not named Jordan Reed. He’s that valuable in this game and I expect him to be one of the top TEs in terms of ownership because of it. This is one of the chalk players I’m willing to buy into, especially if you’re comfortable fading Reed in cash games.
Contrarian: Clive Walford, Raiders, $5,900 – Targeting any fantasy relevant player against the Saints is typically a smart idea because they were absolutely atrocious on defense last season. The adjustments they made in the offseason were mostly to help the rushing defense (Nick Fairley, James Laurinitis) so we can pretty much expect the pass defense to still be one of the worst. No team allowed more fantasy points to TEs than the Saints and, not coincidentally, no team allowed more fantasy points to opposing QBs either. The Derek Carr stacks with his starting receivers are going to be heavily covered in tournaments but some may forget Walford experienced a noticeable uptick in targets down the stretch last year. After being targeted more than four times just once in his first 11 games, he saw at least four targets in four of his final five games. Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrove said they want Walford “to be a big part of what we do” in 2016 so they’re obviously committed to getting him involved. In the best matchup he could possibly ask for, what is there to lose to at this price tag? (Answer: nothing)