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: Kirk Cousins, Redskins, $12,300 – The game script for Kirk Cousins and the Redskins sets up similarly to the way it did for Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins last week against the Browns. Since the Redskins rarely rely on their running game (Matt Jones has just 37 attempts in three games for 4.1 YPC) and their receiving core is loaded with weaponry, it would make sense for Cousins to continue to fling the football. He ranks fourth in passing attempts with 124 through just three weeks, or an average of 41.3 per game. Additionally, Cousins should be amidst a big season if he were able to complete passes in the red zone. He has attempted the second most passes in the red zone (22), completed just seven of them (league average is over 50.0-percent) and only one has resulted in a touchdown (TD). Over the long haul, those numbers are going to positively regress, and the Browns are the perfect elixir to jump start the process. Expect a monster game out of Cousins even though much of the population is expected to be on him.
Contrarian: Brian Hoyer, Bears, $10,000 – One player I’m not sure most are comfortable rostering is Brian Hoyer. Not only are the Bears terrible but he’s the backup QB the team is only implied to score 22.8 points. The good news is the Lions have only allowed the eighth fewest fantasy points to opposing backs including zero rushing TDs. While the spread is only 2.5 in this game, I think the Lions are the much superior team. Their passing offense has been in sync since the get-go and there’s a solid chance they score early and often. If that’s the case, the Bears will be forced to throw to remain in the game (as per usual). If they are not able to establish a run game against a stout front seven, there will be a lot more passing attempts for Hoyer even Coach John Fox is probably comfortable with. Sometimes, the coach just has to roll with what is working and Jordan Howard is active in the passing game so the team can still get him involved if the run game fails. This sets up for a ton of opportunities for Hoyer to make this a productive day against a Lions defense allowing the most fantasy points to opposing QBs. He’s definitely worth a shot.
Running Back (RB)
Chalk: Carlos Hyde, 49ers, $8,400 – I’ve been ranting and raving about Carlos Hyde all week at this price tag and he ended up around 50-percent owned in Thursday night cash games on FantasyDraft…so it appears the public has caught on. A workhorse back warrants a price tag far exceeding beyond $8,400 so sometimes you have to take the value when it is presented to you. Hyde has scored multiple TDs in two out of three games this year and carried the ball 23 times last week even though the game was a blowout. If he can survive that sort of game script, then a game in which his team is listed as 2.5 point underdogs should be a piece of cake. Expect a heavy workload for Hyde, including a few targets (seven targets in three games so far) and all of the goal line work. Altogether, that should easily be enough of a case to affirm him as a strong play in any and all formats.
Contrarian: Isaiah Crowell, Browns, $8,700 – As London Fletcher eluded to in this week’s “Weekly Rundown” video, the Redskins have allowed the most rushing TDs to opposing backs (six). The issue for the Browns, of course, is getting to the goal line. Using Terrelle Pryor Sr. as a total offensive weapon last week propelled them to a season-high 24 points. Meanwhile, with the offense expected to fall off a cliff without Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown, Isaiah Crowell still chugged along with 5.3 yards per carry (YPC) on 15 touches in Week 3. He played a season-high 42 snaps (mostly because the game remained close). There is a possibility for this game to get out of hand with the Redskins listed as 9.5 point favorites which would lead to more snaps from Duke Johnson Jr. Still, Crowell has received 71.4-percent of the Browns’ carries inside the red zone and he fared just fine in Week 1’s blowout loss against the Eagles (because he scored). Sure he is TD-dependent but the team gives him plenty of chances to score. In a matchup where the opposing defense has been susceptible to rushing scores, he’s an under-the-radar multi-TD upside option for cheap.
Wide Receiver (WR)
Chalk: Terrelle Pryor Sr., Browns, $8,400 – As mentioned in the Crowell tidbit, Pryor was used as a weapon rather than simply a WR last week. Sans the team’s top two QBs, Pryor played 14 snaps at QB and even one snap at half back beyond his 67 snaps are receiver. Moving around in the offense led to him completing 3-5 passes for 35 yards, four rushes for 21 yards and a TD plus he still caught 8-13 targets for 144 yards. Essentially, he was kind of like Tim Tebow and Eric Decker combined into one player and that is an incredibly enticing proposition moving forward. Fantasy owners love Le’Veon Bell because he is the combination of a WR2 and RB1 and it’s beginning to look like Pryor is the combination of a QB2 and WR1. One thing is for sure: $8,400 is not an accurate portrayal of his current role. Until he reaches the $11,000 range, or faces an absolutely brutal matchup, Pryor is an auto-start.
Contrarian: Kevin White, Bears, $6,600 – Alshon Jeffery is officially listed as questionable and, if considering Kevin White, Jeffery playing would actually be preferable (and he is fully expected to). Not only would Jeffery draw the matchup against the Lions’ top corner Darius Slay but he would also take defensive attention off of White. Last week, White was targeted a career-high 14 times and caught six passes for 62 yards. Sure the catch rate wasn’t exactly ideal (42.9-percent) but Coach John Fox said “I believe he’s shown steady improvement each time he’s out there, even in preseason.” Even Offensive Coordinator Dowell Loggains went out of his way to praise White this week: “I think Kevin took a big step as far as building some confidence. He played well. [Jeffery] wasn’t at full speed and we started pushing the ball more towards Kevin’s side. It was nice to see him step up and make some tough catches.” All of these comments sure sound like the team is comfortable expanding his role moving forward. Only 11 teams have allowed more fantasy points to opposing WRs and the Lions have ranked 21st against opposing number two targets, per Football Outsiders’ DVOA statistic. At nearly minimum price, he is definitely worth a shot in GPPs.
Tight Ends (TE)
Chalk: Zach Miller, Bears, $5,200 – Recency bias is strong in daily fantasy football and Zach Miller is coming off an eight catch, 78 yard, two TD performance against the Cowboys. Furthermore, the Lions have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing TEs including five TDs. So basically, the case is strong for Miller at this basement price tag as he’s always been a guy on the verge of busting out if he could just stay healthy. The nine targets last week were a season-high but would likely remain the same if Jeffery were to sit out. All-in-all, there isn’t really a strong case against Miller other than the fact that most of the top TEs are in a great spot (Greg Olsen, Jordan Reed specifically).
Contrarian: Charles Clay, Bills, $5,000 – One guy no one is talking about is Charles Clay coming off of a zero catch performance. While obviously discouraging, Clay is going to be needed to step up in the near future with Sammy Watkins placed on injured reserve. Even with a goose egg last week, Clay is still averaging 4.0 targets per game and the only position that has enjoyed any degree of sustained success against the Patriots this season has been the TE. Since the Patriots have been shutting down the run game, teams have resorted to targeting the TE and in tune the defense has allowed the sixth most receptions to the position. Let’s not forget Clay has caught at least 51 passes in three consecutive seasons and now he’ll be needed more than ever. He certainly is not a sure thing but both the price and matchup are right. If there was ever a week to roster him and pray, this would be the week.