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: Blake Bortles, Jaguars, $10,600 – As bad as Blake Bortles has seemed in real life, he has not dipped below 15 fantasy points in any of his last four games and he has averaged 22.5 fantasy points per game (FPPG) during that stretch. At just slightly above the minimum price, he provides both a stable floor and the ability to spend up at other positions. As if that were not enough, the matchup is fantastic against a defense that ranks dead least in passing defense according to Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) statistic and is allowing the second most FPPG to opposing QBs. Bortles connects all the dots this week, and although it may take him until garbage time to make his fantasy owners happy, he should be able to provide value at this price tag rather easily.
Contrarian: Kirk Cousins, Redskins, $10,900 – Another QB in a great spot is Kirk Cousins and he is likely to come at a substantially lower ownership percentage. Not only do the Packers rate as a below average passing defense in terms of DVOA but they rank as one of the five best rushing defenses as well. Sure Robert Kelley has lost yardage on just 2-60 carries this year but this Packers front seven is a brick wall. If he is at all limited, Cousins will need to throw more than usual…and he usually throws a lot. This season, only five QBs have attempted more pass attempts than Cousins (354) and only six have completed higher passes at a superior rate (66.9-percent). Therefore, a potential uptick in volume if the running game were to be slowed down would likely result in positive results. Last week, Marcus Mariota torched this Packers defense for 295 yards and four TDs so this matchup is not exactly unbeatable. Cousins is a great pivot from Bortles in all formats.
Running Back (RB)
Chalk: C.J. Prosise, Seahawks, $8,400 – The return of Thomas Rawls muddies the situation a bit but the release of Christine Michael cures some of the uncertainty. At worst, this should prove to be a 50/50 split and even that is a stretch considering Rawls has missed seven consecutive games and has not appeared in a game since Sep. 11. Even assuming we give him the benefit of the doubt since he says he feels “better than he did early in the season,” C.J. Prosise possesses the more favorable skill set for the PPR scoring system because he catches passes. According to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, Rawls “will be eased back into action,” so this probably ends up as a closer to a 75-25-percent type split in favor of Prosise. After gaining 150-plus yards from scrimmage last week, what real downside is there to rostering him at an $8,400 price tag in this scenario? Answer: none.
Contrarian: Isaiah Crowell, Browns, $7,700 – Isaiah Crowell’s touches and snaps have been on the decline recently as he has only played 22 and 30 snaps respectively in the last two games (his lowest two totals of the season). During that span, he has only rushed for 27 yards on 15 carries so the public is likely down on him and willing to overlook him. First of all, the weather is supposed to be ugly on Sunday with 60-percent chance of precipitation which will likely turn out to be snow showers. Additionally, the winds will be blowing at around 30 mph so the team should focus more heavily on the run game. To this point, the Steelers have allowed 14 total TDs to opposing RBs including a whopping 10 rushing TDs. If there is one thing we are sure of in this Browns backfield, it is Crowell remains the goal line back as he has still received 100-percent of the team’s red zone carries over the last two weeks. If rostering him, save it for GPPs but he has an excellent chance to score this week if the team is able to make it into the red zone.
Wide Receiver (WR)
Chalk: Tyreek Hill, Chiefs, $8,800 – With Jeremy Maclin ruled out, slightly more attention is going to be paid to Tyreek Hill by the Buccaneers secondary but it should not matter. No team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing WRs than Tampa Bay and they rank exactly 25th in terms of DVOA to number two WRs and “other” WRs (meaning third options and below). Since Hill lines up literally everywhere on the offense, and almost at a perfect distribution (29-percent right side, 31-percent slot, 35-percent left side), he does not qualify as a number one option. Consequently, he should be able the find the holes in one of the worst secondaries in the league especially if he approaches his 13 targets from last week once again.
Contrarian: Adam Thielen, Vikings, $7,400 – Okay so last week Stefon Diggs was not blanketed as expected but Coach Bruce Arians has already stated his intent to shadow Diggs with Patrick Peterson this week. On the last drive alone in Week 10, Diggs caught five passes and that is just not a realistic possibility when squaring off against Peterson. For the season, Peterson has only allowed two TDs as well so Diggs’ upside should be capped in this matchup. What does this mean? Someone else will have to step up in the passing game in order for them to succeed. Coming off a game in which he scored, Adam Thielen is an interesting proposition since he acted as the team’s top option when Diggs was inactive earlier this year. If Diggs is blanketed, it may start to feel like he is inactive once again. Hell, Thielen has been targeted at least five times in four of his last five games and has either scored or managed 40-plus yards receiving in every game during that stretch. While he is not the safest bet, he could enjoy more success than usual with the team’s star battling all afternoon.
Tight Ends (TE)
Chalk: Julius Thomas, Jaguars, $6,900 – Julius Thomas is the mindless start of the week as he is the lucky TE to draw the matchup against the Lions this week. As stated many, many times in this article, the Lions are a dream matchup for opposing TEs as they have allowed the second most fantasy points to the position and the absolute most TDs (nine). On the other hand, Thomas has not eclipsed 28 yards receiving since Week 2 so his upside is limited. Sure he has scored in three of his past four games, and is in a great spot to find paydirt again, but the price is not overly appealing. Plenty of people will be on him due to his talent and matchup but pivoting in tournaments makes a ton of sense.
Contrarian: Charles Clay, Bills, $5,000 – At the bare minimum cost, Charles Clay could blow away his price tag if he happened to eclipse 40-50 yards receiving and/or score a TD…and the matchup is ripe. The Bengals rank 29th in DVOA to opposing TEs and have allowed 72.1 yards per game to the position. Although the offense does not use Clay all that much on an average week, he is still a one-man show at the TE position on the team. Sure he has only gained 15 total yards in the past two weeks combined but he has been targeted 10 total times during that stretch and he actually played a season-high in terms of snaps last week. Positive regression is on the horizon and this seems like an appropriate time against a team allowing the third most fantasy points to opposing TEs. While rostering him is not for the faint of heart, it could pay off in a huge way.