Welcome to the week one edition of Contrarian Daily Plays. In this weekly piece we will identify potential contrarian plays that can put you over the top and bring home the money in large-field tournaments with guaranteed prize pools (GPP).
If you are new to Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) you might be wondering what exactly a contrarian play is. To put it simply, a contrarian play for the purpose of this weekly column, is defined as a player who is likely to have low ownership in large-field GPPs.
Why do we want to hit on a few of these underowned players in our lineups each week? If Aaron Rodgers throws for 300 yards and two touchdowns against the Bears in week 1 but 80% of the field is also playing him then you aren’t gaining ground on those teams because you are scoring the exact same number of points for the same salary. Conversely, If you have Andrew Luck at only 20% owned going against the tough Bills D and he lights up the scoreboard then you now have an advantage over 80% of the field at quarterback.
One of the easiest ways to pick a contrarian play is to select players who are generally reliable producers but are perceived to have a bad matchup. A good rule to follow: elite players are generally matchup proof more often than not. The perception of a tough matchup causes many players to shy away from studs. Matchup perception is something we want to take advantage of in large field GPPs.
Another great contrarian play is to enter contests that include Thursday Night Football, but then completely fade all the players in the game. Casual DFS players like to see their players on TV. It isn’t uncommon for these owners to pack their lineup with players from the Thursday night game just because they are at the bar watching the game with some buddies after work and they want something to root for. Don’t be that guy. Thursday night games are generally lower scoring games than the ones on Sundays and Mondays. This is especially true for the passing game. For the purposes of this column we will always ignore players in the Thursday night games. This gives us an advantage right out of the gate without any effort on our part.
Playing a contrarian strategy is not about just picking a bunch of players owned by only 1% of DFS players. Avoiding chalk plays completely in favor of lesser players just because the masses won’t be on them is a recipe for disaster. Making subtle moves against the hive-mind is a much better way to play from a contrarian point of view. Sometimes it’s as easy as picking a similarly priced player who has just as high of a ceiling but with a worse matchup. While the field will gravitate to the player with the better matchup, your goal in certain sports should be to take the other player
The most wonderful time of the year is upon us so let’s get into it!
Jay Cutler – $8,100
According to 4for4’s projections, Cutler will score 18.1 points this week which is good for 2.29x his salary. Cutler is likely to have low ownership in week one playing against the Packers. Vegas has the line for this game set at 50 points so they expect some scoring. Players everyone else hates are great contrarian targets.
Andy Dalton – $7,100
I’m violating one of my own rules here by recommending a quarterback playing on the road but in this case I think it is warranted. Dalton is one of the most hated quarterbacks in fantasy football and we can use that to our advantage in week one when the Bengals travel to Oakland. The Raiders secondary is still one of the worst in the league and I see Dalton and his number one wide receiver A.J. Green as a nice contrarian stack in week one.
Frank Gore – $7,500
On paper, Gore has one of the worst matchups of the week. He is playing on the road in Buffalo against one of the toughest run defenses in the league. It points to low ownership in week one. Andrew Luck should be able to move the ball on the Bills despite the tough matchup. Any goal line opportunities should go to Gore this week. Don’t be surprised when Gore has a two touchdown week with 5-6 receptions out of the backfield. Put him in a GPP lineup despite what your brain is telling you about the matchup.
Danny Woodhead – $6,000
The masses this time of year have rookie fever. Let them spend the extra $1,100 this week on Melvin Gordon while you start Woodhead instead and use the leftover money on a stud receiver. The matchup against Detroit’s tough run defense favors the pass-catching Woodhead who should see plenty of targets and most of the third down work. San Diego loves throwing it to Woodhead in the red zone as well.
Allen Hurns – $4,600
Allen Robinson garners most of the attention among the Jacksonville receivers but Hurns has quietly become the starter opposite him. With Marqise Lee still ailing, Hurns has a chance to cement himself in the Jaguars starting lineup with a strong week one performance against the Panthers. You might remember the former UDFA having a breakout type game in week one last season to the tune of four catches, 110 yards, and two touchdowns. With every DFS player who is considering a Jacksonville receiver likely on Robinson, Hurns makes for a nice contrarian play who again could pay big dividends in week one.
Terrance Williams – $5,300
Vegas predicts the Sunday night Giants @ Cowboys matchup to be one of the highest scoring games of the week with a projected total of 51 points combined. Williams will likely be far less owned than Dez Bryant so take advantage of his price difference here while using the money you saved to grab a different elite tier wide receiver. Williams has been inconsistent throughout his career but has shown the ability to put up a long touchdown. In the week three preseason game he had a 60-yard touchdown grab. The running game lacks clarity so the offense will pass more in 2015. More passing means more targets and opportunities for Williams.
A.J. Green – $8,300
The cheapest and most likely to be least owned of the elite receivers. The Bengals offense has not looked great in the preseason which will likely cause most DFS players to shy away from Green when selecting their elite receiver. Use the extra $400 – $1,000 to improve your lineup elsewhere while enjoying a pretty nice matchup against the Raiders.
Larry Donnell – $5,300
There will be tons of action on the Sunday night Giants @ Cowboys but most of that will be focused on the high profile wide receivers on both teams. Donnell makes for an interesting arbitrage play on the Giants passing game who not a lot of DFS players will likely be on. It’s a cheap way to get a piece of one of the highest scoring games in week one.
Ben Watson – $4,600
You are probably thinking “but what about Josh Hill”? about now.
Josh Lambo – $4,500
Nick Novak was cut by the Chargers in favor of the UDFA Lambo. He’ll be playing at home in nice weather in a relatively high scoring game. He’s also a minimum play who casual players won’t even know exists so this is an easy play to build some uniqueness into your lineup.
Jacksonville Jaguars – $4,200
I expect a lot of the money to be on defenses like the Jets and Dolphins in week 1 so if you are looking for a contrarian defensive play then consider the Jags. They play at home in what figures to be one of the lowest scoring games of the week. Cam Newton playing with one of the worst receiver groups in the NFL shouldn’t scare anyone. Casual fans will see the name of the team and immediately pass them by. Use that to your advantage.