The top contrarian plays for Wild Card weekend in DFS

Finding the lightly owned players who will perform is key to DFS success, even in the playoffs, says Scott Barrett.

| 5 months ago
(Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

(Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The top contrarian plays for Wild Card weekend in DFS

“de omnibus dubitandum”

Your redraft league may be over, but fantasy football is still alive and well. As we’ve done for the first 17 weeks of the season, we’re looking at DFS football tournaments through a contrarian lens. Our strategy changes somewhat in the playoffs with a smaller slate.

In my first year playing DFS (2014), the smaller slates were my favorites. I felt like they were easier. There were fewer variables to consider. They seemed less overwhelming than the bigger slates. However, I was far less successful at playing them than I was the bigger slates. Granted, this was before I had adopted my current, more contrarian, strategy. Each week, I’d play a four- or six-game slate and I’d just put in my optimal lineup. There were weeks where even if I hit every position but one or two, I would still only barely cash, and there were 40 different people who all had the exact same lineup at the top of the leaderboard.

It wasn’t until I started playing more contrarian that I finally started having more success in the smaller slates. I’d build out a core of players I loved regardless of ownership and then I’d build out lineups inserting one-to-three contrarian plays into each – or I’d just remove chalkier players and instead insert players who stood to benefit if the “chalk” underperformed. This made my lineup much more unique. Having the same lineup as 40 other DFS players, even if it hit, doesn’t offer as much of an advantage. If a player with an ownership percentage at 15-percent-or-lower hits, this gives you a huge edge over a large majority of the field. Or, if a player rostered at 40-percent-or-more (not unreasonable to see in these smaller slates) underwhelms, this gives you a tremendous edge as well.

Just as we’ve done all regular season, our first step is to identify the chalk, and our second step is coming up with strategic pivots off of the chalk and/or finding high-upside plays we think are going to be under-owned. This week, the chalk projects (according to me) to be: Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Lamar Miller, Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr., and Doug Baldwin.

We instead like the following under-owned plays:

Miami Dolphins

If everyone thinks Ben Roethlisberger and the entire Pittsburgh offense to lose their mind this week, and with good reason, there are two contrarian strategies to attack this game.

Jay Ajayi, RB, Miami Dolphins

Considering Pittsburgh’s big-three will likely be the three highest-owned players at each position, there is now a strong argument to be made for fading them (partially or fully) regardless of their individual projections. The upside we gain in the event of them underperforming is amplified by the size of the field rostering them – the more people rostering them, the more our upside increases if we fade them and they underperform. If we imagine a scenario where Pittsburgh underperformed on offense, who would be the highest scorer for Miami?

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Scott Barrett is our Senior Fantasy Analyst and one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.

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