Witten in Stone

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). The ownership percentages are based on the Thursday night $5,000 Run and Gun contest.

Quarterback (QB)

Chalk: Russell Wilson, Seahawks, $12,300 (10-percent owned) – Okay so Russell Wilson is not a pure punt play at $12,300 but virtually all of the incredibly cheap QBs are low-owned. Kirk Cousins, Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick all come in with seven-percent ownership percentages or less. Meanwhile, Wilson and the Seahawks draw an enticing matchup against a secondary that has allowed the second most fantasy points per game (FPPG) to opposing QBs over the last four weeks including the seventh most passing yards (1,126) during that stretch. Overall, the Packers’ passing defense ranks 22nd in terms of Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) metric and they rank 32nd and 31st respectively in DVOA against number one and two WRs. Against this forgiving defense, Wilson’s top targets should be able to get open early and often and this game could easily turn into a shootout despite the disrespect from Vegas (only a 45.5 over/under). If playing it safe at the QB position, Wilson should garner a fair amount of ownership and allow you to be in line with the pack.

Contrarian: Robert Griffin III, Browns, $10,000 (one-percent owned) – Are you feeling lucky, punk? Well, are you? Robert Griffin III has been out since leaving Week 1 with a shoulder issue but the Browns announced on Thursday that he would start the team’s Week 14 game against the Bengals. At literally minimum price, the opportunity for him to crush value as obvious as he does not even need to string together a monster game in order to come through for those who rostered him. As of now, all his main weapons around him are healthy (Terrelle Pryor, Corey Coleman, Gary Barnidge, Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr.) and the Bengals defense ranks 17th in DVOA against the pass. Additionally, the Bengals have allowed the sixth most rushing yards to opposing QBs (219) and two rushing TDs to the position. It remains to be seen whether Griffin III is willing to risk injury by rushing the football once again but his instincts will likely just kick in at some point. This play is not for the faint of heart, but if he can somehow contribute to two of his team’s TDs, those who rostered him will be jumping for joy (and have plenty of money to spend elsewhere).

Running Back (RB)

Chalk: Carlos Hyde, 49ers, $9,800 (10-percent owned) – Once again, most of the cheap backs are not heavily owned this week because most owners chose to spend up for both David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell. One of the highest owned inexpensive options at the RB position is Carlos Hyde against a reasonably stout Jets defense. Overall, they rank second in rushing DVOA although they have allowed 40.6 yards receiving per game (per Football Outsiders) to the position. Not only has Hyde managed at least 4.5 yards per carry (YPC) in each of the last three ballgames but he has two of the bottom six in terms of fantasy points allowed per game during the stretch (Bears, Patriots). In fact, the Patriots rank fourth in rushing DVOA, so the matchup is not much different, and Hyde racked up 14.00 fantasy points despite not scoring a TD against Coach Bill Belichick’s squad. The matchup is not ideal but Hyde is a true workhorse and has been targeted 11 times cumulatively in his last three games. Therefore, volume supersedes matchup in tournament play; especially at this price tag.

Contrarian: Isaiah Crowell, Browns, $7,700 (seven-percent owned) – The Browns and Bengals first squared off on Oct. 23 (Week 7) and Isaiah Crowell found the end zone in that contest. Since that time, Crowell has scored just one TD but he has topped double-digit fantasy points thrice in five games. In Week 1, Robert Griffin III did not seem overly focused on targeting Duke Johnson Jr. When all said and done, Johnson Jr. caught 3-5 targets for 28 yards (tied for his second fewest receptions in a game all season). Also, research has shown rushing QBs do not target their backs out of the back field at the same rate as non-mobile QBs so the one-game sample size actually makes sense. With Griffin III under center, it is more likely the team features the pure rushing style of Crowell so the 12 carries from Week 7 could actually prove to be his floor (especially with the Bengals missing some of their top weapons). In what should prove to be a competitive game, Crowell should be used more than usual and will be tasked with goal line duties. All of this combined leads to a solid play in all formats for a bargain price tag.

Wide Receiver (WR)

Chalk: Malcolm Mitchell, Patriots, $8,400 (32-percent owned) – Apparently, the masses are drinking the Malcolm Mitchell Kool-Aid because he garnered an ownership percentage of nearly one-third. Having been targeted five, seven and 10 times respectively in the past three weeks, he has seemingly on a linear trend upwards in terms of volume. During those three games, Mitchell has produced 19.80, 2.20 and 16.20 fantasy points respectively and he will now draw a matchup that is very nearly the “nuts” (or absolute best). The Ravens rank first in DVOA against the run and against TEs so Tom Brady will very likely be looking the way of his receivers instead. Unfortunately, Mitchell will line up against a solid talent in Jimmy Smith but he still should see a healthy amount of targets. At just $8,400, one of the top options in a Brady offense is certainly worth taking the shot on.

Contrarian: Robby Anderson, Jets, $6,000 (10-percent owned) – Many people will probably think to themselves “do I really want to put my money on Robby Anderson?” which will lead to a decrease in ownership percentage by the weekend. This could present a buying opportunity for a player who certainly looked like Bryce Petty’s first read last week. Although he had not been targeted more than six times all year before last week, Anderson saw 12 targets with Petty playing a majority of the offensive snaps (52-percent) under center. He ended up catching four of those targets for 61 yards and a TD so the result was positive even though the catch rate left much to be desired (33-percent). If Anderson were to see anywhere near that sort of volume once again this week, he would easily blow away his price tag of exactly minimum cost.

Tight Ends (TE)

Chalk: Jason Witten, Cowboys, $6,000 (22-percent owned) – The Cowboys clearly liked what they saw about Jason Witten’s matchup in the first meeting because he was targeted a whopping 14 times and caught nine passes. Looking at the Giants on paper, it is hard to blame the Cowboys for their assessment because the Giants are a tough team against the run and are equipped with two of the game’s better cover corners (Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie). On the other hand, they rank 27th in DVOA to opposing TEs and have surrendered 78.3 yards per game to the position so that is clearly the glaring hole in their defense. Assuming the Cowboys game plan in a similar fashion this go-around, Witten should possess both an incredibly safe floor and an enticing ceiling.

Contrarian: C.J. Fiedorowicz, Texans, $7,700 (five-percent owned) – The absolute best matchup for an opposing TE according to DVOA is against the Colts as they obviously rank dead last. C.J. Fiedorowicz has literally proven to be the one stable option in the Texans passing game as DeAndre Hopkins and the other seems to fade in and out of the picture depending on matchup. In the meantime, Fiedorowicz has been targeted at least five times in every game since Week 4 including six occurrences of seven-plus targets over his last nine games total. When Fiedorowicz last faced the Colts, he caught 6-7 targets for 85 yards and a TD. This game will now be played in a dome so the teams will not have to battle the elements like others playing outdoors. If only five-percent owned, give me Fiedorowicz all day long in an absolutely fantastic spot.

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called DailyRoto.com, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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