RotoWire & FanDuel Fantasy Football Championship – Week 6

It has been an exciting first half of the RotoWire & FanDuel Fantasy Football Championship. Many contestants have earned entries into the Week 11 Championship round, and even more have doubled up their cash through the first five weeks of the competition. Unlike my 49ers, you still have a chance to earn a spot in the postseason, and your first opportunity begins this Sunday with Week 6 of the NFL season.

If this is your first time hearing about FanDuel’s RWFC, here are the details and instructions on how to get in on the action:

  • 10-week competition hosted on FanDuel
  • $10 entry (max five entries each week)
  • Compete against other users and three FanDuel experts (Jeff Erickson, Derek VanRiper, Kevin Payne)
  • Finish above the experts, win an entry in the Week 11 Freeroll with over $5,000 in prizes and RotoWire subscriptions up for grabs
  • Each qualifying week acts as a double-up with the top 250 doubling up their cash
  • This is not a continuous competition, so you can enter every week, and you don’t have to have participated in last week’s contest to enter this week’s competition
  • There is no limit on the amount of entries you can win for the championship round, so start racking them up this week if you haven’t already
  • You can sign up for this week’s competition here

While Jeff Erickson, Derek VanRiper and Kevin Payne are your direct competition in the main contest, the rest of the RotoWire experts are competing in a separate Expert Competition. Week 5’s contest belonged to Chris Bennett (k30kittles) who bested the rest of the ‘perts with a 164.7 point day. His team was led by the dangerous trio of Big Ben, Ezekiel Elliott and T.Y. Hilton, who combined for 87.9 points. All of Chris’ players scored double-digits outside of two. His biggest success was nailing both his kicker and defense slots, rolling out Adam Vinatieri (23) and Minnesota’s defense (16). The first place finish vaulted Mr. Bennett into the overall top 10. Here’s how that shakes out after five weeks:

  1. James Seltzer (schweppy23) 644.64
  2. Dave Hunter (therolypolyboy) 638.58
  3. Chris Benzine (crispy272001) 638.38
  4. Jeff Erickson (jefferickson) 621.14
  5. Shawn Cwalinski (cwalinski) 621.12
  6. Joel Bartilota (joelbartilotta) 619.88
  7. Adam Wolf (rotosomething) 612.24
  8. Chris Bennett (k30kittles) 600.84
  9. Peter Schoenke (rotopeter) 598.68
  10. Kyle Riley (morningwoodson21) 598.06

As for myself? I am stuck in the middle of the pack with 553.80 points. I haven’t turned in a noticeably poor performance (season-low of 97.90), but I also haven’t had that monster week to separate myself from the competition (season-high of 132.80). I have some ground to make up in the final five weeks of the expert competition, and here are some players I will target who I believe will outperform their price tags.

Value Picks

Before we get to that, let’s take a look at the excluded players from this week’s competition:

Teams on byes: MIN, TB

TNF: SD, DEN

MNF: NYJ, ARZ

QB Ryan Tannehill ($7,100) vs. PIT

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Alex Smith is the obvious value play against the 32nd ranked Oakland pass defense, but for that same reason he will appear in a lot of your competition’s lineups. A guy that probably won’t be heavily owned who has an equally tasty matchup will be Miami’s signal-caller. It may seem odd targeting a QB who recently received the dread “vote of confidence” from his coach. It is no secret that Tannehill has struggled of late, but he does have three 15+ point games under his belt. He also has three playmakers in Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills at his disposal against the 30th ranked Pittsburgh pass defense. The key for a successful fantasy outing will be game flow. If Pittsburgh gets up big early (as everyone expects them to), then Tannehill could be airing it out north of 30 times, something synonymous with his two 30+ point games this season.

RB Ryan Mathews ($6,500) @ WAS

This is a case of a player being priced way too low considering the projected workload and soft matchup. Washington ranks 30th against the run and Mathews has dominated the touches out of Philly’s backfield in all games he has been healthy for. He is currently listed as questionable due to an illness, but it sounds like he should be ready by Sunday and was not listed on the injury report due to any other ailment. The only thing that could hurt his stock would be if the Redskins were to go up big early, but even if that were the case, Mathews showed last week that he can be a capable pass-catcher out of the backfield (caught five of five targets against Detroit).

RB James White ($5,700) vs. CIN

While it wasn’t a monster game, White turned in his best performance of the season (89 total yards) with Tom Brady back under center. The output is even more impressive considering the Patriots got up big on the sorry Browns. He will cede most early-down and goal-line work to LeGarrette Blount, and that hurts his value. That being said, White did score six touchdowns last season in a limited role. The Bengals should provide better competition than Cleveland, and when the Pats are forced to throw, White becomes the preferred back of use to act as a safety valve for Brady. He could be a sneaky value play this week.

WR Jarvis Landry ($6,900) vs. PIT

If Tannehill is viewed as a value play against the porous Steeler secondary, then Landry should be viewed as a steal at this price. Outside of last week’s all-around poor performance from Miami, he has seen at least 10 targets a game. In the three games where Tannehill produced 15 or more fantasy points, Landry has averaged 16.3 points. This price is far too low for potential WR1 production.

WR Brandin Cooks ($7,500) vs. CAR

Cooks has really tailed off since his Week 1 explosion against Oakland. Despite the decreased production, he has still seen at least six targets in every game this season, so Drew Brees is trying to get his speedy wideout the ball. Coming off the bye week, you’d figure Sean Payton would come up with creative ways to get his star receiver the ball in space. The defensive matchup shouldn’t scare you away as this isn’t the same Carolina secondary we saw last season; they rank 15th against the pass. Cooks is a boom-or-bust option, but this is as good as a week as any to see a “boom” performance, especially if Cam Newton is able to suit up and keep the score close.

WR Torrey Smith ($5,300) @ BUF

Speaking boom-or-bust receivers… Smith has actually been more “bust” than “boom” this season. The glimmer of hope in Week 6 is that Colin Kaepernick will replace the abysmal Blaine Gabbert under center. While Smith had his fair share of poor games with Kap last season, he did produce two games of 90+ yards and a touchdown. He should be considered a punt play with a high ceiling at home against the Bills.

TE Zach Ertz ($5,400) @ WAS

Ertz returned from his rib injury last week but was held to just 37 yards on three receptions. This kept his Week 6 price down and that is one of the major reasons I view him as a value play. Carson Wentz has shown that he likes to spread the ball around, and that is exactly what happened last week against the Lions. This week the Redskins provide a different kind of secondary. They have a shutdown corner in Josh Norman who should spend most of his day covering Jordan Matthews. Prior to his injury, Ertz was Wentz’s second favorite target in their Week 1 win over Cleveland and there is a chance he could be his top target this week if Matthews is taken out of the equation. Unlike Donald Trump, I wouldn’t worry about Ertz’s small hands in this matchup.

High Risk/High Reward

QB Cam Newton ($8,900) @ NO

Newton enters Week 6 as the second-highest priced QB despite missing a week of action and performing under last year’s MVP level. He also has yet to be cleared by an independent specialist to return to the field despite passing the NFL’s concussion protocol. Those factors make him a risky play at his current price tag. The upside is certainly there as the Saints’ defense has been as atrocious as expected in 2016. If he is able to suit up, he could be in store for a big fantasy day. It is up to you to decide whether that upside is worth Newton’s hefty salary.

Steer Clear

RB Ezekiel Elliott ($8,100) @ GB

Zeke is riding high off of three consecutive 100+ yard games, but he runs into a buzz saw this week. Green Bay has clearly been the league’s top rush defense this season and you can assure that they will be keying in on the rookie after his recent burst of success. Dallas hasn’t used him much in the passing game, so you run the risk of a really underwhelming day if the Cowboys fall behind to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers on the road. There are five other premium RBs I would rather dish out the cash for this week (Le’Veon Bell @MIA, DeMarco Murray vs.CLE, LeSean McCoy vs.SF, Lamar Miller vs.IND and Todd Gurley @DET).

Follow Josh on Twitter @JashFath