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. Nevertheless, this is the NFL and all sorts of outcomes are possible regardless of how juicy the matchup is. Heading into Week 7, 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:
Blake Bortles, Jaguars, $11,600 – In real life, Blake Bortles has not had a great season. Amongst all QBs who have attempted at least 40 passes, Bortles’ 6.84 yards per attempt (YPA) ranks 28th. While his completion percentage currently sits at a career-high, the previous high of 58.9-percent was not exactly a high bar to clear. Furthermore, his 8-7 TD:INT ratio is way less than ideal as the team would like to see closer to the nearly 2:1 ratio he posted in 2015 (35-18). Still, despite the mediocre numbers overall, Bortles is still averaging 19.36 fantasy points this season. In other words, just reaching his season average would put your fantasy team on pace for 168 fantasy points. The upside of this matchup stretches far beyond just an average performance because the Raiders have allowed the most passing yards of any team (1,914) to go along with 12 passing TDs en route to the most fantasy points allowed to the QB position. Their secondary is just a mess and Bortles has not been able to get Allen Robinson involved the way he would like. Considering the Raiders’ best corner, Sean Smith, lines up on the left side of the formation 94-percent of the time and Robinson moves around the formation, he should draw favorable matchups for most of the day. If the two are able to find rhythm early and often, this could finally be the big day for the Jaguars passing offense that fantasy owners have been waiting for.
LeSean McCoy, Bills, $14,300 – Why is LeSean McCoy a tournament play as opposed to a cash game option? First of all, DeMarco Murray is slightly cheaper and possesses a much safer floor so he would be the preferred back to spend up for in cash games. Secondly, the Dolphins have fared pretty well against the run this season as they have allowed the 12th fewest fantasy points per game to the position. With Ndamukong Suh manning the middle, it is not difficult to see why this may be the case. Still, without Sammy Watkins, the Bills have no choice but to feed McCoy 20-plus times to per in order to have a chance. Here are McCoy’s touches since Week 2: 20, 25, 20 and 21 last week. Essentially, you know what you are getting with him and though heavy workloads have led to at least 20.80 fantasy points every single week. He is involved in the passing game, receives the goal line work and is not game script dependent so there is potential to go off on any given week. Even in a non-ideal matchup, the ceiling is sky high.
Duke Johnson Jr., Browns, $7,700 – Last week, Duke Johnson Jr. scored his first career rushing TD but most of all he continued to do what he does best: catch the football. Johnson caught four-plus passes for the fourth time in six games this season and gained 56 yards in Week 6. Quietly, Johnson is on pace for 64 receptions (RECs) and 957 yards from scrimmage. Diving into the matchup this week, the Bengals have actually been susceptible to backs of his skill set; they have allowed the sixth most receiving yards to backs and the second most receiving TDs (threes). The weaknesses in the defense clearly favors the skill set of Johnson as opposed to Isaiah Crowell who is the team’s ground-and-pound runner (they have only allowed three rushing TDs). With FantasyDraft’s PPR scoring system, Johnson is an enticing option especially due to the sub-$8,000 price tag.
A.J. Green, Bengals, $16,200 – Joe Haden is the single reason to fear the Browns’ secondary. In practice last week, Haden injured his groin and is now listed as week-to-week, meaning it is unlikely he suits up in Week 7. Consequently, A.J. Green’s matchup is looking awfully juicy against the likes of Jamar Taylor and Tramon Williams (who has graded as one of the worst corners in football so far). For what it’s worth, Green torched the Browns for 128 yards and a TD in his last meeting against them and Haden was inactive for that game. Only four teams have allowed more receiving TDs to opposing WRs than the Browns this year so they are going to have their hands full with Green this week.
Jeremy Maclin, Chiefs, $12,600 – In the Weekly Review article posted on Monday, I concluded Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce were no longer cash game viable in this volatile Andy Reid system. However, that does not mean either should not be considered in tournaments moving forward because they both likely have some big games up their sleeves. Look, both failed in a fantastic matchup last week but that is all the more reason to go back to the well in Week 7. Is it possible for Maclin to flop in back-to-back weeks against the team that had allowed the most fantasy points to WRs in 2016 (Raiders) and the team that did it in 2015 (Saints)? While the Saints have improved a bit, they have still allowed the 10th most fantasy points to the position and the Chiefs are listed as 7.0 home favorites. Sure Spencer Ware could pound his way to a monster game and the passing game could yet again be ignored or maybe Alex Smith throws from 285-plus yards for the third time this season. With the Chiefs’ game-planning, you never really know, but the price is right for a player who has yet to truly break out this year. Down the stretch in this same offense last year, Maclin eclipsed 15 fantasy points in five of his final six games including two 29-plus fantasy point performances. By comparison, he has only exceeded 15 fantasy points once this year so his upside clearly stretches far beyond what he has shown to this point.
Jack Doyle, Colts, $5,000 – The Colts went ahead and signed Chase Coffman on Tuesday which signifies the reports suggesting Dwayne Allen is “week-to-week” are accurate. In all likelihood, Allen is not going to suit up this week so a majority of the targets to the TE will funnel through Jack Doyle. After the Allen injury last week, Doyle managed a respectable four RECs (on four targets) for 53 yards and a TD. On paper, the matchup against the Titans this week is far superior so he should remain involved. At this price, he does not even have to score in order to provide value, but a score would lead to him absolutely crushing value. For that reason, he is absolutely worthy of playing in large field GPPs because he could easily finish as the top fantasy-point-per-dollar producer at the position.