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 13, 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:
Andy Dalton, Bengals, $10,200 – Aaron Rodgers proved on Monday Night Football that solid defenses such as the Eagles can be beaten by excellent performances. After Week 12, the Eagles have allowed the ninth fewest fantasy points to the QB position, but over the past four weeks, they have actually allowed the 10th most fantasy points to opposing QBs. In other words, the recent sample size suggests they are not as stout as they seem and their corners are just plain bad. Tyler Eifert is a talented TE, Jeremy Hill is getting involved in the passing game and Tyler Boyd/Brandon LaFell are at least ample receivers. Prior to Nov. 14, Dalton had managed to eclipse 20 fantasy points in four consecutive games. The losses of A.J. Green and Giovani Bernard do not help his cause but he possesses the talent to overcome this difficult situation. Since he is missing weapons, he will probably come at a sub-five percent ownership. For a player like Dalton, that is an intriguing proposition, especially at basically minimum price.
Le’Veon Bell, Steelers, $17,300 – Death, taxes and having exposure to Le’Veon Bell on a NFL slate are the three surest things in life for me. Now that Bell’s TD drought has corrected itself, and he has found the end zone four times in the last three games, Bell is quite clearly a fantasy monster. This week, the play is to spend up on Bell instead of David Johnson in tournaments because Johnson’s matchup seems far superior. Johnson’s opponent, the Redskins, rank 29th in rushing defense according to Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) metric while the Giants rank inside the top 10. Hell, the Giants have even ranked fourth in DVOA against backs in the passing game but Bell is completely matchup proof especially at home where Ben Roethlisberger always excels. Even against a formidable foe, Bell is my highest projected RB of the weekend and his ownership may be a bit depreciated due to all the viable alternatives. Make sure to roster him at least in tournament lineups because literally no other back has more upside (even Johnson).
Kenneth Dixon, Ravens, $7,300 – All signs point to a Kenneth Dixon breakout in the very near future and the Dolphins are next on the schedule for the Ravens. On paper, this is nothing more than a neutral matchup but the Dolphins have quietly allowed the 12th most fantasy points per game to the RB position over the last four weeks. Quietly, last week was the second time in three weeks Dixon managed to gain at least 80 total yards from scrimmage. He also ranks second in tackles avoided per attempt of any player so far this season, per Brad Evans on Twitter. After out-snapping Terrance West 31-23 against the Bengals, it is clear he has leapfrogged the competition and is knocking on the door of taking over as the bell cow. At this affordable price tag, this is the week to roster him and get ahead of the curve. The breakout that has been brewing finally seems ready to occur.
Julio Jones, Falcons, $16,300 – The emergence of Taylor Gabriel should prove to be a positive for Julio Jones in the long run because it alleviates some of the attention on him. Sure Gabriel has scored five TDs in four games and Jones struggled last week but his clunker ended a streak of 26-plus fantasy points in consecutive games. According to DVOA, the Chiefs rank 19th against opposing number one WR options and their best corner, Marcus Peters, grades as the 25th best cover corner (per Pro Football Focus). None of that data suggest the Chief possess what it takes to shut down Jones plus Emmanuel Sanders just burned them for 160-plus yards and a TD. Jones is certainly a more complete receiver than Sanders so he could be headed for a monster day. Even though his ownership percentage will probably not be low, this is not a week to stray away from the big fella.
Tyreek Hill, Chiefs, $9,100 – If you have been rostering Tyreek Hill consistently this year, congratulations because you are probably rolling in the dough at this point. Last week, Hill reached new heights as a professional as he caught 9-10 targets for 52 yards and a TD for 32.50 fantasy points. His previous high had been 21.50 and he now has eclipsed 20 fantasy points in both of the games in which he has received double-digit targets. His role in the offense seems to increase by the week and he has only failed to reach double-digit fantasy points once in his last six games. He reminds me of last year’s Brandin Cooks as he is just racking up both the targets and RECs on a weekly basis even though he is somewhat small in stature (5’10”, 185 lbs). Since the price tag has only inched up and not shot up like an arrow, there is still plenty of room for profit at his current cost. As a true WR1 in his respective offense, Hill is in a great spot against a Falcons team that has already surrendered 14 receiving TDs to opposing WRs.
Greg Olsen, Panthers, $9,600 – The Seahawks defense has changed since last season but one aspect that has remained the same is their inability to cover opposing TEs. It is literally their one weakness on defense as evident by them ranking 21st in TE DVOA to this point. Last year, Greg Olsen and the Panthers faced them twice and the results were impressive: 7-131-1 in the regular season and then 6-77-1 when they met again in the postseason. Terrible offensive line play has hampered the Panthers offense a bit this season but Olsen has still been targeted at least seven times in all but two games. He has been awfully quiet lately but his is too good for it to last for long and now his price has come down to probably the lowest it will ever be. In this matchup where Cam Newton will need to look for his safety blanket while under siege, Olsen should bounce back in a big way.