The injuries of Week 8 led us to a “stars and scrubs” roster construction in Week 9. As we get set for Week 10, balance is going to be the more popular route to take when making teams. With Devonta Freeman, Julio Jones, Le’Veon Bell among the players out of the slate, and almost no $3k-$4k players to feel good about, our job this week is to identify the best value in the mid-range of salaries.


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The point of this column is to use the news, snap count, usage and trends to both be a little contrarian and avoid whiffs.

MATCHUPS TO EXPLOIT

1. Stefon Diggs against David Amerson and D.J. Hayden

It’s an ideal time to get back on the Diggs train. We knew he was going to struggle last week against the Rams’ quietly stout secondary in a game with a total of just 40 points. Now Diggs’ salary has dropped to $5100 and his ownership will dip as well for a dream matchup against a Raiders defense that doesn’t have the secondary talent to slow down anyone. Over the last four weeks, they’ve been lit by Antonio Brown (17-284-0), Brandon Marshall (9-108-0), Keenan Allen (9-89-0) and Emmanuel Sanders (9-111-0). We know that Diggs is the No. 1 wideout for Teddy Bridgewater (probable, concussion) now, as evidenced by his 9.0 targets per game.

2. Quiet stud Allen Robinson in a plus matchup

Here are Allen Robinson’s 2015 lines in which he hasn’t been shadowed by Josh Norman or Vontae Davis: 6-155-2, 4-68-0, 7-72-2, 6-85-1, 6-98-1, 6-121-0. That 6-121-0 line from last week came despite seeing a ton of Darrelle Revis. This week, the sledding will be smooth against a Ravens defense that gives up the second-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts. Robinson will be running the majority of his routes at Jimmy Smith (PFF’s No. 93 coverage CB). Perhaps more importantly, the Jags figure to have trouble running the ball against a Ravens defense that ranks fifth in YPC allowed (3.76) and 10th in rush YPG allowed (99.8).

SITUATIONS TO CAPITALIZE ON

1. Mark Ingram’s frustrating Week 9 box score

Owners that just looked at the box score last week saw Mark Ingram with 22-54-0 on the ground, 4-42-0 through the air and zero touchdowns. What that doesn’t show is that Ingram’s usage was off the charts. He smashed previous season-highs by playing on 88.3 percent of the snaps and getting 89.6 percent of the running back touches. A frustrating lack of efficiency and some really bad luck around the goal-line was all that stopped Ingram from a massive game. The good news is Ingram now gets to face a Redskins defense that has been gashed badly by the run over the last month, and we get to use him at a far lower ownership. It’s an ideal “bounce-back” play.

2. Michael Crabtree outproducing Amari Cooper

Crabtree has scored more DK points than Cooper in three of the last four weeks. He also costs $900 less. That will lead a lot of the ownership to tilt toward Crabtree, which is just fine by me. Cooper remains the more explosive athlete and the one that could be shadowed by Xavier Rhodes Sunday. Rhodes is PFF’s No. 104 CB among 111 qualifiers. So we have a case of two receivers with similar projections, yet one will have significantly less ownership. These are the kind of things to look for when building GPP lineups.

CONTRARIAN GPP PLAYS

1. Josh McCown and Gary Barnidge

I certainly like the Kirk Cousins/Jordan Reed stack and love the Blake Bortles/Allen Robinson play. But I think they’ll have significant traffic on them. A more contrarian stack is to fire up a quarterback who has three 300-yard days and five multi-TD games already this season in Josh McCown (assuming he plays through rib injury). The no-brainer play is to pair him with the only real red-zone threat he has in underrated 6’6/250 Gary Gronkidge. Before last week’s Johnny Manziel-induced dud, Barnidge had a six-game run in which he averaged 6.0 catches for 85.3 yards and 1.0 TDs per outing. The Browns have almost no shot to run the ball well against the Steelers’ top-5 DVOA run defense, which means they’ll have to take to the air against a pass defense that has given up the fifth-most points in the league to tight ends.

FADES

1. Alshon Jeffery and Jeremy Langford

Everyone saw this pair of Bears perform exceptionally well against the Chargers on Monday night football. This matchup against the Rams will be far stiffer test as they go back-to-back road game in a short week. Note that the Rams are giving up just 18.3 points per game, a number that includes a total of five touchdowns allowed to wide receivers and five to running backs. In terms of yards allowed per play, only the Broncos, Panthers and Seahawks are better. With Randall Cobb, Amari Cooper, Mike Evans and Allen Robinson all slightly cheaper than Alshon, there are a lot of other options with similar floor/ceiling combos. The same can be said for Langford, who has the likes of Darren McFadden, James Starks and LeGarrette Blount in his price range.

WHO I’M CONSIDERING IN DRAFTKINGS CASH GAMES

(No particular order)

QB: Aaron Rodgers, Blake Bortles, Andy Dalton, Kirk Cousins
RB: Darren McFadden, Todd Gurley, DeAngelo Williams, Mark Ingram, James Starks
WR: Brandon LaFell, Allen Robinson, Randall Cobb, DeAndre Hopkins, Julian Edelman, Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs
TE: Jordan Reed, Gary Barnidge, Rob Gronkowski, Greg Olsen, Tyler Eifert
D: Rams, Broncos, Bengals, Packers, Eagles, Raiders