Week 3 Punt Plays: Hunter-Gatherer

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).

Quarterback (QB)

Chalk: Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins, $11,700 – With Jay Ajayi slated to start at RB for the Dolphins, one can reasonably infer the team will struggle to establish the run. Since the beginning of training camp, Ajayi has been just brutal and it wouldn’t be surprising for Kenyan Drake to come away with more carries. Regardless, the team is averaging 3.7 yards per carry (YPC) with Ajayi averaging just 2.8 (compared to Drake’s 6.0 on two total attempts). If this is the duo they have to work with, then it would make sense for them to rely heavily on the passing attack similarly to the way they did last week. Ryan Tannehill attempted 45 passes against the Patriots in Week 2, completed 32 of them (71.1-percent completion) for 387 yards, threw for two touchdowns (TDs) and rushed for 35 yards. On Thursday, the Patriots defense showed they are in a different class than the lowly Browns who at best will be playing with a banged up Joe Haden (although he may not play at all). With a pass-happy offense squaring off against a susceptible, untalented defense, there’s really very little reason to doubt Tannehill in this matchup.

Contrarian: Joe Flacco, Ravens, $11,400 – Only four defenses have allowed more fantasy points to opposing QBs than the Jaguars through two weeks and Joe Flacco was the guy who burned the aforementioned Browns defense last week. In that tilt, Flacco surpassed 300-yards passing (302), threw two TDs and finished with a respectable 21.18 fantasy points. Starting the year with what appeared to be a group of old, rundown receivers, the emergence of Dennis Pitta has helped him greatly. Now Flacco has a guy to rely on to move the chains with Mike Wallace acting as the over-the-top threat and Steve Smith working his way in as needed. The offense isn’t going be as porous as once thought and they certainly have enough to succeed against a Jacksonville team that has allowed 32.5 points per game (PPG) to this point. For only slightly less than Tannehill, Flacco can be rostered at a much lower ownership and he possesses a similar ceiling.

Running Back (RB)

Chalk: Charles Sims, Buccaneers, $9,700 – Of the backs whose situations have improved due to injury this week, the sub-$10,000 consensus picks seems to be Charles Sims. Even without a truly established role last year (other than third down work), Sims finished as RB17 in the FantasyDraft scoring format! This week, the team cut Austin Seferian-Jenkins after getting arrested for a DUI, so QB Jameis Winston lost one of his main security blankets. Now if the pocket breaks down, Winston will look to Sims early and often for dump-off passes which translate to fantasy points. Furthermore, he figures to be the workhorse back with Jacquizz Rodgers spelling him for short periods of time. After a letdown performance last week, the Buccaneers should bounce back in a big way and Sims should be locked into cash games as he has the potential to finish as the top fantasy-point-per-dollar back of the week.

Contrarian: Shane Vereen, Giants, $7,300 – Last week, Rashad Jennings was dealing with a hand injury but Shane Vereen led the Giants backfield in both snaps (40), carries (14) and overall touches (17). After declaring Jennings the “lead back” heading into the season, Vereen seems to have snatched that role away from him in just two weeks. Whether or not that distribution continues remains to be seen, but it doesn’t even have to at just the $7,300 price tag. Vereen is incredible valuable in the PPR format as he has caught 47-plus passes in three consecutive seasons and that was almost solely as a third down back. Now, if his role were to continue to increase, his ceiling stretches far beyond any of those outcomes. In a game that could low-key develop into a shootout, especially with a Redskins team that leads the league in passing attempts, Vereen is very much in play this week.

Wide Receiver (WR)

Chalk: Terrelle Pryor Sr., Browns, $6,600 – Prior to the Corey Coleman injury, Terrelle Pryor Sr. was worthy of consideration, but now he even may be featured in the Browns passing game at just $6,600. Heading into this game, there are a lot of unknowns in the Browns offense. How will rookie Cody Kessler fare? Who will start at receiver in place of Coleman? Will the Browns rely heavily on the run game now to make up for the absence of their top two QBs and number one WR? The only thing we know is Isaiah Crowell has had two monster games and Coach Hue Jackson has schemed Pryor into the game plan to the tune of 17 targets in two games (only resulting in six catches). Since Miami struggles to run the ball, they’ll likely be passing all game, and Vegas lists them as 10 point favorites. If the Browns fall behind, their options in the pass game are limited to Pryor, Andrew Hawkins, Gary Barnidge (who disappeared in Week 1 without Josh McCown) and Duke Johnson. In other words, expect another heavy dose of targets headed Pryor’s way and maybe the team even looks to get creative and put him under center. Regardless, he has to at least be worth a shot at this price and most will probably think that way.

Contrarian: Cole Beasley, Cowboys, $6,300 – Looking at what happened to Danny Woodhead last week, I don’t expect a large percent of the population to rush to roster another undersized NFL skill position player. Beasley stands at a whopping 5’8”, 174 lbs., and you’re probably reading this going “I am bigger than he is.” Yes, that is correct and you probably wouldn’t last the length of a full NFL season either. With that being said, Beasley is a quick little son of a gun and he has fared as Dak Prescott’s security blanket instead of Jason Witten through two games. Beasley is tied with Witten for the team in targets (18) but solely leads the team in both receptions (13) and receiving yards (140). This week, the Cowboys will face a Bears defense missing two starting linebackers, a starting tackle and probably a starting safety, and they were already 0-2. I look for the Cowboys to be able to do whatever they want on offense and win this handily. If that’s the case, Beasley will be a significant factor once again, and he should far exceed this price tag. Use him as a differentiator in any and all formats.

Tight Ends (TE)

Chalk: Dennis Pitta, Ravens, $6,600 – Amazingly, Dennis Pitta has put up high-end TE1 numbers to this point despite the team wondering in the preseason if he could ever play at a high level again. He has since silenced those thoughts especially after a nine catch, 100-plus yard game last week. Through two weeks, Pitta leads all NFL TEs in receptions (12), ranks second in receiving yards (141) and third in targets (16). The way roster construction is shaping up this week, the only options are either spending up for Jordan Reed or taking a cost cut at the position (with Delanie Walker seemingly iffy). Pitta, in a matchup versus a defense that hasn’t been able to stop anyone so far, has as much upside as anyone and a much more favorable price tag than the elites. It’s hard to overlook that sort of bargain.

Contrarian: Hunter Henry, Chargers, $5,000 – Philip Rivers and his TEs always seem to be in sync, although that constitutes a large sample size with Antonio Gates. Before his departure to the Steelers, Rivers found ways to get talented youngster Ladarius Green involved as well. Gates is listed as doubtful so rookie Hunter Henry is slated to start in his absence. Henry was the first TE selected in this year’s NFL Draft (35th overall) and Rivers called him a “complete player” just last week. In what Vegas is projecting as the second highest scoring game of the weekend, I think it’s fair to project a shootout (or at least a reasonable amount of offense to come out of this game). With Rivers missing his top WR, top TE and top receiving back, others are going to have to make up for their absences. Henry is in a fantastic spot to crush value and should be worth using anywhere and everywhere.

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called DailyRoto.com, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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