I’m Trying Real Hard to be the Shepard

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:

Connor Cook, Raiders, $10,000 – It is official: Connor Cook has been deemed the starting QB for the Raiders in the opening round of the playoffs. Cook came in to fill in for an injured Matt McGloin last week and completed 14-21 passes (66.7-percent) for 150 yards, one TD and one interception (INT) against a stifling Broncos secondary. The matchup quite literally cannot get any more difficult as the Broncos ranked first in passing defense this year according to Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) metric. The team’s upcoming opponent, the Texans, ranked fifth in passing DVOA this year and possess an imposing group of corners as well. Still, for minimum cost, Cook only needs to come through with an average game in order to provide value for those who roster him. With Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger and Russell Wilson all priced significantly higher, Cook is the contrarian alternative in order to roster those catching passes from the aforementioned trio. If Cook can replicate his production from last week over the course of a full ballgame, he should easily compete to lead the position in terms of fantasy-points-per-dollar this week at a basement price and low ownership.

Zach Zenner, Lions, $8,800 – One guy who will not come at a low ownership is Zach Zenner who literally played 100-percent of the team’s offensive snaps last week. Without any semblance of competition whatsoever, the floor is incredibly high for Zenner once again even against a solid Seahawks defense. Sure the team ranked second in rushing DVOA and third in DVOA against opposing RBs out of the backfield but Zenner may have a floor of 15 touches (including some being of the reception variety). Heading into this game, Zenner has topped 20 fantasy points in back-to-back games against upper-echelon rush defenses (Cowboys and Packers) and has scored three total TDs during that span. With a healthy amount of volume heading his way this week, Zenner is simply too cheap for potential upside even in a tough matchup.

Paul Perkins, Giants, $8,100 – It took until the last week of the regular season but Paul Perkins finally ran away (literally) with the starting RB job as he carried the ball 21 times for 102 yards (4.9 yards per carry). Unfortunately, Rashad Jennings touched the ball 19 times as well although he only averaged 2.9 yards per carry (YPC). Over the course of his last six games, Jennings topped 3.7 YPC just once while Perkins only failed to average 4.5 YPC twice during that same span. When it counts the most, Coach Ben McAdoo is likely going to go with what works instead of focusing on giving both equal playing time and Perkins has clearly earned more touches. At just $8,100, Perkins will be facing a defense that gave up 21.00 fantasy points to Zenner last week, allowed both Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata to average 4.5-plus YPC in Week 16 and was torched by Jordan Howard for 90 yards rushing (on 5.3 YPC), a TD and four receptions (RECs) for 23 yards. With the defense struggling and Perkins surging, this could be the perfect time to capitalize on this youngster’s rising stock (but price remaining reasonably stagnant).

Sterling Shepard, Giants, $9,500 – In both the same game and on the same team as Perkins, Sterling Shepard presents a solid value for those looking for one at the WR position. This year, the Packers ranked 29th in DVOA against opposing number two WRs and Shepard was targeted at least five times in all but two games this season. Down the stretch, Shepard scored in six of his final nine games including in two of his final three games. Sure Odell Beckham Jr. is a great play but the defense is going to be focused on him. If the team wants to free up space for him, the easiest way would be to establish Shepard early in the game. With the team only implied to score 20 points, a contrarian move would be to play both Beckham and Shepard together in the same lineup. There certainly is a scenario where Beckham finishes with 100-plus yards but Shepard is the only one of the duo who finds the end zone. Regardless, Shepard is worth the price tag in any and all formats with the WR position severely lacking options in this price range.

Geronimo Allison, Packers, $6,400 – Randall Cobb practiced in a limited fashion this week and is clearly going to try and attempt to play through an ankle issue. Either way, Geronimo Allison looks to have already passed him at least temporarily on the depth chart as he has played 77.4-percent of the snaps over the last two weeks and gone 8-157-1 on 13 total targets. Meanwhile, Cobb has exceeded 60 yards receiving just thrice this year and clearly is still affected by this issue to a degree. The Packers have no real reason to rush him back and will likely to continue to use this up-and-coming youngster in a majority of their offensive sets. If so, any player seeing a healthy playing time alongside Aaron Rodgers, especially a pass-catcher, has the ability to succeed and succeed consistently. For a player who has eclipsed double-digit fantasy points in back-to-back weeks and is being thrown the ball by an elite QB, Allison is simply way too cheap. Sure he is destined to be volatile in this offense but he is 100-percent worth a shot at just $6,400.

Dion Sims, Dolphins, $5,000 – On paper, this matchup against a Steelers team that ranks 13th in TE DVOA does not stand out but it is hard to overlook a minimum priced player who has scored four TDs in his last six games. To be fair, Dion Sims has not looked good in his previous two games with Matt Moore as he has only caught two passes on four targets during that span. However, he legitimately will cost you nothing and clearly possesses the upside to score. Hell, he scored twice in his first full start with Moore so his sky is higher than simply a few yard TD. By using him, a lineup can fit nearly everything else including the likes of Le’Veon Bell, Odell Beckham Jr., etc. If the other skill positions are of higher priority to spend up on for you, Sims is a fine punt option in tournaments only.

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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