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: Colin Kaepernick, 49ers, $11,400 – Okay so Colin Kaepernick’s price slightly exceeds the threshold for a punt but he is literally the only cheap QB I would be comfortable with rostering in cash games. The opportunity cost of spending down at the QB position this week is grave as virtually all of the top QBs are in excellent spots to succeed. If willing to take the risk, even with the loose pricing on FantasyDraft, at least Kaepernick is a guy who has contributed six-plus fantasy points from just his rushing ability in four out of six games this season. Additionally, Kaepernick has thrown for multiple TDs in three of his last four contests and scored multiple TDs (air/ground combined) in each during that stretch. Essentially, he has become a reliable fantasy contributor and now he will square off against a Bears team missing two of their starting linebackers (Danny Trevathan, Jerell Freeman). Any chance they had of containing his rushing ability has gone out the window and Kaepernick looks primed for another solid performance.
Contrarian: Matt Barkley, Bears, $10,000 – On the other side of the ball in the same game, Matt Barkley is looking for an encore after his best game as a professional last week. Although he only completed 51.9-percent of his passes, his receivers dropped a whopping 10 passes which cost him a much bigger day than it already was. When all said and done, Barkely had racked up 316 yards, thrown for three TDs and managed 25.60 fantasy points at the bare minimum price tag. One of the few teams who averages a lower time of possession per game is the 49ers who rank dead last (26:33). This means the Bears should possess the ball more than usual…against a bad defense. Everyone knows about the 49ers’ struggles against the run but they also rank 24th in passing defense according to Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) metric. Barkley will be down even one more target this week (Eddie Royal) but he should have plenty of opportunity to succeed. In tournaments, saving salary to roster him in order to pair him with all the skill position players from the best games of the week is not a terrible way of applying game theory to the slate.
Running Back (RB)
Chalk: Jeremy Hill, Bengals, $8,500 – At $8,500, the solidified volume and role is simply too much to pass on even in another subpar matchup on paper. Last week, Jeremy Hill squared off against the Ravens and their number one ranked DVOA rushing defense and still put up over 14 fantasy points against them thanks to a big receiving day (6-61). Sans Giovani Bernard, this expanded role as a receiver is likely to become a weekly occurrence although it should be noted Rex Burkhead out-snapped Hill 38-37. In terms of cash games, Hill is a safe bet to touch the ball 18-20 times, including goal line work, so there is no reason to fade him. His price allows you to fit Drew Brees comfortably and go from there.
Contrarian: Kenneth Dixon, Ravens, $7,300 – This is finally the week. Last week, I wrote about Kenneth Dixon in this very column as a contrarian option and he out-snapped Terrance West 31-23 and gained 80-plus yards from scrimmage for the second time in three weeks. Most importantly, he touched the ball a career-high 17 times which is an incredibly encouraging sign moving forward. According to Brad Evans on Twitter, Dixon ranks second in tackles evaded per opportunity amongst RBs so he is a shifty fella. As if that were not enough, Dixon graded as the best pass-catching back in this year’s draft class according to Pro Football Focus so Dixon is quite clearly a dual threat. One of these weeks his breakout is coming; it’s inevitable. Finally, against a Dolphins defense that ranks 19th in rushing DVOA, his role appears to have grown enough where it has a very real chance. Do not build rosters this week without including at least one Dixon share.
Wide Receiver (WR)
Chalk: Marquess Wilson, Bears, $7,800 – Although the Bears WRs were stricken with a case of the drops against the Titans, Marquess Wilson still caught 8-11 targets for 125 yards and a TD. There is no doubt he is the best of the healthy bunch that remains at the WR position and the team will be down Eddie Royal this week as well. Basically, the volume should be guaranteed once again since the other guys are struggling to catch the football and the 49ers rank 28th in DVOA to opposing number one WRs. Of course, Wilson isn’t a “number one target” in the truest sense but Tramaine Brock is not quite a shutdown corner either. While Barkley should not be expected to top 50 passing attempts once again, a healthy target share should still be headed Wilson’s way by default. At this price tag, there is little-to-no downside.
Contrarian: Mohamed Sanu, Falcons, $8,700 – With the entire fantasy world swooning over Taylor Gabriel following five TDs in four weeks, Mohamed Sanu is fly drastically under the radar this week…and that is a good thing for us. In Week 12, Gabriel drew the only favorable matchup amongst the receivers as Julio Jones was dealing with Patrick Peterson and Sanu was being chased by Tyrann Mathieu. This week, it is a whole different ballgame with Jones in a great spot and Sanu matched up against Philip Gaines who has graded as the worst starting corner (in nickel formation) of any in football. As good as Gabriel has been, Sanu himself has cracked 12 fantasy points in two of his last three games including catching all eight targets for 65 yards last week. With this passing offense firing on all cylinders, expect Matt Ryan to find the open guy, and very often that should be Sanu this go-around.
Tight Ends (TE)
Chalk: C.J. Fiedorowicz, Texans, $7,400 – In every game since Week 4, C.J. Fiedorowicz has been targeted at least five times and caught at least three passes. For a TE priced in the lower mid-tier at the position, this is an impressive amount of consistency. Although he has not found the end zone over the course of his past three games, he still finished as TE6 just two weeks ago. With so many enticing options to spend up on at RB, WR and even QB this week, Fiedorowicz’s price tag combined with his consistency makes him an easy plug-and-play in cash games…especially against a Packers defense allowing the seventh most fantasy points per game to the position.
Contrarian: Vance McDonald, 49ers, $5,600 – If feeling feisty, why not take a shot on Vance McDonald for a lot of the same reasons mentioned in the Kaepernick tidbit? The absence of the linebacker Freeman is a huge position for McDonald because Freeman had graded as Pro Football Focus’ second best linebacker in coverage so far this year. Without him, the Bears are lost against opposing TEs and McDonald quietly ranks as TE4 over the past four weeks! During that span, he has produced at least 46 yards receiving in each game and two total TDs. At this basement price tag, McDonald presents a healthy amount of upside.