‘Contrarian’ is a hot word in the daily fantasy streets these days; everyone wants a contrarian lineup in tournaments to help them differentiate from the crowd.

One thing to keep in mind is that being contrarian doesn’t mean necessarily forgoing value; it just means predicting what the crowd will do and putting yourself in position to benefit if they’re wrong. All other things equal, we want as much value as possible. All other things equal, we want as low of ownership as possible.

The typical problem we face is that those two are correlated; as value increases, ownership often does the same. But not always. There are different ways to be contrarian—some of which are really smart and some of which are dumb.

When you’re creating a contrarian GPP lineup, think about creative ways you can differentiate your team without actually forgoing a ton of value. Yes, stacking a weak offense against Clayton Kershaw is contrarian, but it’s also dumb as hell. Meanwhile, finding one or two intelligent contrarian plays you can fit into a chalk stack, for example, could allow you to secure near-max value and still have a lineup that can finish ahead of the rest of the chalk with relative ease.

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The Teams

Toronto Blue Jays (vs Adam Morgan)

The Blue Jays already had a bunch of lefty-mashers, and now they added Troy Tulowitzki to the mix. With an implied run total of 5.8 runs in Vegas, everyone is going to be on the Blue Jays tonight. The situation is so advantageous that I’m not fading, but I will be looking to figure out how I can make my Toronto stack stand out from the rest.

First, I’ll consider using a bat hitting lower in the order—a sub-optimal move in terms of pure value, but perhaps +EV as a contrarian strategy. Second, I’m going to play Justin Smoak over Edwin Encarnacion at first base. Smoak hits lefties better anyway, and with the majority of Toronto stacks likely rostering Encarnacion, it’s an easy way to differentiate without really losing value.

 

Houston Astros (vs C.J. Wilson)

To me, the Astros are an obvious stack at home against an average southpaw. They have so much upside in any game as an offense that has more home run upside than any team in the league. I don’t think this is a super-contrarian stack, but you have to remember this is a full slate in which Toronto (5.8 runs), NY Yankees (4.8 runs), Chicago Cubs (4.8 runs), Texas (4.7 runs), Boston (4.5 runs), Pittsburgh (4.5 runs), Minnesota (4.5 runs), Baltimore (4.4 runs), and St. Louis (4.3 runs) are all projected better and going to steal a lot of attention.

It’s going to be above 90 degrees with a strong wind blowing out to left field in this game.

 

The Players

C Yasmani Grandal, LA Dodgers (vs Sonny Gray) – $3300

Grandal and the Dodgers are in a tough matchup against Gray, but they aren’t projected that poorly by Vegas at 3.5 implied runs. More important, Grandal is underpriced at $3300, yet will see low ownership due to the matchup. This is certainly a high-variance pick because Grandal could do nothing, but value + low ownership is what we’re looking for in tournaments.

 

1B Justin Smoak, Toronto (vs Adam Morgan) – $2600

I could be overestimating the number of Toronto stacks that will be on Encarnacion just because Smoak is so underpriced at $2600, but I still think we’re going to see a lower number here than we should. This is the most obvious way to get exposure to the Blue Jays without running into the extreme usage we’ll see on guys like Josh Donaldson.

 

OF Charlie Blackmon, Colorado (vs Dallas Beeler) – $4700

It’s clear that Rockies bats lose a lot of value when they venture away from Coors, but some guys are hurt more than others. If you think about how Blackmon produces fantasy points, it’s in a variety of ways. He’s still in a hitter’s park tonight in Chicago against a weak arm, and he has a ton of stolen base upside as well. I think we’re probably looking at sub-5.0 percent usage here, which is a win every single time in this situation.

 

P Ubaldo Jimenez, Baltimore (vs Atlanta) – $7200

I think Jimenez is very underpriced at $7200. Vegas has Atlanta at just 3.2 implied runs and Jimenez’s 9.2 K/9 is about as high as you’ll see at this price tag. Noah Syndergaard, Jose Fernandez, and David Price are all quality options who will be in the majority of lineups, so I don’t think Jimenez is a lock to be on even 20 percent of GPP teams.

I also really like Hisashi Iwakuma against a strikeout-prone Arizona offense. I’ll even be rostering this pair together in some lineups—a move that should allow me to use more chalk on offense and still have a unique combination.