Ben Roethlisberger at Indianapolis Colts: $7,600
This season, a pretty good rule of thumb is to locate the Indianapolis Colts, find out who they are playing, and then load up. Ben Roethlisberger is this week's lucky recipient, and he makes for an interesting bargain option for those of you that are looking to differentiate in tournament play. The Colts remain dead last in points allowed and second to last in passing yards allowed, so, as I mentioned, they remain the ideal matchup. Roethlisberger has had one of his worst years as a pro, bottoming out week 5 with a no touchdown, five interception performance against Jacksonville. He also is yet to have a fantasy day over 18 points all year. But the Colts are such a guarantee that all these perceived negatives do is serve to make Roethlisberger artificially cheap. With all budget recommendations there are risks, but it is well worth the risk to get a QB1 with upside for $1,000 off market price.
Joe Mixon at Tennessee Titans: $6,200
Cincinnati's offense has been woeful this year. They are scoring the 4th fewest points, averaging the fewest rushing yards, and gaining the lowest total yards in the entire league. But when it comes to running backs, volume is king, and Joe Mixon has taken firm control of the Bengals backfield. Since week 3, he's averaged over 16 touches a game and been the only compliment to a struggling A.J. Green. Look for Cincinnati to continue to feed Mixon against a mediocre Titans defense. You are probably banking on a score for Mixon to have a tournament winning day, but his high floor could be an appealing asset in a cash game.
Orleans Darkwa at San Francisco 49ers: $5,300
Much has been made of the tire fire that is the New York Giants and their offense. And rightfully so after they were waxed by the Los Angeles Rams 51-17 last week. But the lone bright spot has been Orleans Darkwa, who, despite the blowout, still saw 16 carries and contributed 80 total yards. With Wayne Gallman coughing up a ball and Paul Perkins nowhere to be found, Darkwa will see the overwhelming majority of the touches next week. And the Giants are playing a similarly terrible San Francisco team that should allow them to keep it close and get Darkwa at least 20 carries. Facing the worst rush defense in the league, Darkwa is the steal of the week.
Marqise Lee vs. Los Angeles Chargers: $6,000
Recommending someone who catches passes from Blake Bortles is always risky, but Marqise Lee has developed into Bortles go to receiver. You may as well reap the benefits. Over the past four weeks, Lee has been on the receiving end of almost a third of Blake Bortles attempts, meaning he is seeing a share of targets only elite wide receivers are matching. Unfortunately those targets aren't as valuable as targets that another quarterback would offer, but it has afforded Lee a high fantasy floor (he's been above 8.5 points five of the past seven weeks.) Casey Hayward and the Chargers present a challenge, but Lee should see the passes to put up another favorable day.
Robert Woods vs. Houston Texans: $6,200
In a boom bust position, Robert Woods has been the model of consistency. He's going to see around 6 to 7 targets, he's going to catch 4 or 5 of them, and he's going to post 60 or 70 yards. It's been clockwork the past 4 weeks, and last week, he finally found the end zone, scoring twice against the Giants. That kind of stat line isn't going to win you a tournament, so he may not be a GPP candidate, but if you need a cheap filler to complete a cash game roster, Woods offers a low risk choice. Considering the Rams will probably need to pass to open up running lanes against the tough front seven of the Texans, Woods is a solid pick.
Austin Hooper vs. Dallas Cowboys: $4,900
The tight end position has been tricky this year, with few proven options and a number of hit or miss outputs. It gets especially bleak when you go bargain hunting at a relatively shallow position. But Austin Hooper offers a decent profile at an extremely cheap price. He's sitting under $5,000 because he's only had two fantasy days over 9 points, but Hooper has seen at least 6 targets in four of his last five games. He is fully integrated into the Falcons offense, and will continue to see looks as teams continue to take away Julio Jones and the dynamic Atlanta running backs. There isn't huge upside here, but Hooper offers the lowest risk option below $6,000.