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 10, 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 Wentz, Eagles, $10,600 – The most eye-opening line of the weekend was the Falcons/Eagles game opening as a toss-up with a projected over/under of 50.0 points. In other words, Vegas is implying the Eagles to compete with a good team which is somewhat strange considering Philadelphia has not scored that many points since Week 3. Carson Wentz has been trending upwards in terms of fantasy points for four consecutive weeks so he is due to crack the 17 fantasy point threshold for the first time since Oct. 9. Considering no team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing QBs than the Falcons, this would be an excellent time for him to revert to the early season version of himself. He is cheap, and you play for first place in tournaments, so this is a way to create potential upside (by rostering a cheap option with the potential to crush value).
Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, $14,900 – With most looking at David Johnson as the absolute lock of the week, Ezekiel Elliott could go drastically under-owned even after a 22.70 fantasy point, multiple TD performance last week. The fewest rushing yards he has produced in a single game since Week 3 is 92. He is clearly a top talent and running behind one of the best offensive lines in the game so he can get it done any week against any opponent. However, this is not just any opponent this week because the Steelers have allowed the fourth most fantasy points to opposing RBs including 200-plus rushing yards to Jay Ajayi just a few weeks ago. Differentiating from the field by using a stud back in a great matchup is an ideal situation 10 out of 10 times. With the ownership spread out amongst all the top guys, Elliott is an excellent play in large field GPPs.
Melvin Gordon, Chargers, $13,400 – The thought process behind rostering Melvin Gordon is similar to the aforementioned Elliott. At nearly the identical price, Jay Ajayi will garner a higher ownership percentage because he has been incredibly ridiculous over the past three weeks rushing for 529 yards during that span. Meanwhile, Melvin Gordon proved he was more than a TD-specialist last week as he rushed for a season-high 6.1 yards per carry (YPC) and improved his season total to 4.0. For a five week stretch, Gordon only eclipsed 4.0 YPC once (Weeks 3-7) and never reached 100 yards rushing during that span. Now he has accomplished that feat in two consecutive weeks and will face off against a middle-of-the-road Dolphins rushing defense. Coincidentally, the team that has allowed a nearly identical total of fantasy points per game to the RB position: the Titans (his opponent last week). Rostering a true RB1 (proven last week) in a fine matchup is a great way to separate from the field and his ownership should prove to be incredibly low for a guy who busted out last week only because of the alternatives.
Alshon Jeffery, Bears, $12,300 – As noted in the safe bets article yesterday, the Bears offense is in an intriguing spot this week against a Buccaneers team that has allowed 29.0 points per game. Although RBs have enjoyed some success against Tampa Bay, they have actually ranked worse in terms of defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) against the pass (20th) than the run (15th). In Week 8, Alshon Jeffery finally caught his first TD of the season…and it was against elite cornerback Xavier Rhodes and the (previously) dominant Vikings defense. Part of his success was due to the return of Jay Cutler who has seemingly been the only QB on this Bears roster who can take advantage of Jeffery’s talent. Remember it was not that long ago (2014) Jeffery caught double-digit TDs and the Buccaneers rank 19th against number one WRs according to DVOA. Jeffery’s price tag may never dip lower so this is a perfect chance to take advantage.
Jordan Reed, Redskins, $11,700 – Over the course of the past two weeks, both Zach Miller and Eric Ebron have quietly gashed this supposedly untouchable Vikings defense to the tune of 88 and 92 yards respectively. Miller caught seven passes for 88 yards en route to 15.80 fantasy points and Ebron caught seven for 92 yards which equates to 16.20 fantasy points. News flash: neither of them are as talented as Jordan Reed. With a bye week to help recover from a concussion, Reed should be rejuvenated and ready to go against a defense that suddenly is struggling to cover the position. Most will skim over a matchup against the Vikings but there is a real trend developing here…and his price reflects the difficult draw. Due to a dip in price tag, there is a real opportunity for profit here if Reed were to put in any sort of performance close to what he is capable of, and this is a guy who scored double-digit TDs last season. Reed is a true TE1 normally and could prove to be one as well even against a stout opposing defense.