Wow this year was certainly laced with injuries, even into the playoffs we find ourselves pinched for talent to roster. Things are particularly dire at RB where this week we find only one healthy featured back (David Johnson), three feature backs who missed last week and remain questionable (Jon Stewart, DeAngelo Williams and Marshawn Lynch), and four RBBC situations. Even amongst the injured guys only Lynch has a next-man-up backup in Christine Michael, the rest are also RBBC. So it looks like the only safe bets this week are Johnson and Michael assuming Lynch decides to sit out yet again.
WR is a little deeper but DFS mainstays like Jeremy Maclin and Antonio Brown are both question marks thanks to injuries. Thankfully, TE is a little more user-friendly. Rob Gronkowski is slightly over-priced against one of the best D’s in football against TEs but there are a lot of other deal options. Amazingly, the craziest position might end up being QB since FantasyScore has not a single quarterback whose value is below cost.
Despite the thinner player pool, this may be the toughest DFS slate I’ve ever pontificated on. Do they really expect me to pay more than 8K for Alex Smith? Will anyone roster a RB not named Michael or Johnson? Will Bill Belichick name his featured back before the third drive of the game? My brain is actually beginning to hurt as I construct my lineup. I hope I don’t have to go through the concussion protocol. Considering all the injuries this season – not even that would surprise me at this point.
At least I have a lot of beer to help me get through the weekend.
Prices indicated: Black = Acceptable and Red = Not Worth It and Blue = Gotta Have It
Weekly strategy – You can’t trust a dinged up Ben Roethlisberger versus the mighty Broncos and Russell Wilson and Cam Newton face off in a defensive juggernaut matchup that could be low scoring. I’ll probably lean Carson Palmer or Peyton Manning and be out just 6.5K on DK and a small fortune on FS. Making matters worse is that there isn’t really a value play here. The only possible ones are Peyton and Alex Smith and their price tag isn’t that much different from the rest. Also, don’t get me started on Smith’s price at FS.
Pay To Play
Carson Palmer, Cardinals vs. GB ($6500 DK, $8900 FD, $9200 FS)
DraftKings is giving us a present keeping this week’s best QB matchup-wise under 7K. At the other two sites you will have to bend over and take it since there are only two QB plays at a price below 8K and they both surprisingly are on FD. Green Bay has allowed 200+ and two scores in three of their last five. The two outliers were against Matt Cassel and Teddy Bridgewater so take them with a grain of salt.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers @ DEN ($7000 DK, $8100 FD, $8700 FS)
I know that Ben Roethlisberger went into Denver and posted insane numbers once already this year, but this week he will be playing with half a throwing shoulder and likely without his top WR. Denver has a good defense to boot, one that likes to swarm the QB. I do not expect Ben to be able to survive this whole game even if he does lace ‘em up at the start.
Peyton Manning, Broncos vs. PIT ($6000 DK, $7000 FD, $8700 FS)
Pittsburgh and Green Bay are without a doubt the worst remaining teams against the pass. Peyton Manning didn’t show a lot of rust last week. Let’s hope that continues in this contest. One thing is for certain, I don’t know if I can stomach paying him $8700 on FS when Carson is only $500 more. Pittsburgh has allowed every QB it has faced since Week 4 to top 200 yards and six of those QBs have topped the 300 mark. This included Week 15 during which Brock Osweiler threw for 296-3.
Weekly strategy – Barring a game-time-decision return from injury by Marshawn Lynch, Jon Stewart, and/or DeAngelo Williams, the RB position will belong to David Johnson and Christine Michael. I might flop in Charcandrick West, Steven Jackson, or one of the Denver or Green Bay backs for variance, but I am not sure I will want to be around sharp or heavy objects this weekend when the other end of those RBBCs ultimately end up going off.
Pay To Play
David Johnson, Cardinals vs. GB ($6000 DK, $8500 FD, $7900 FS)
This week, David Johnson is the only sure-thing in a vast wasteland of unsure-things. Green Bay is pretty bad against opposing RBs. They have allowed rushing TDs in five of their last seven regular season contests. This included a Week 16 meeting with Arizona where David Johnson netted 127 combo yards and a score against them.
Jonathan Stewart, Panthers vs. SEA ($5800 DK, $6300 FD, $6700 FS)
Jonathan Stewart was a great cheap RB this season only to run into his annual injury bug at the end of the year. In his earlier matchup with Seattle he scored a pair of rushing TDs. Since that game back in Week 6, only one team has topped 86 rushing yards against them and only three teams have scored a TD on the ground. He should be good to go to start this game, but with his injury history there is no guarantee he survives it. Not to mention, that Carolina will probably handle him with kid gloves mixing in Cameron Artis-Payne and Mike Tolbert. Oh yeah, there is another guy named Cam that could cut into his rushing yards and goal line opportunities as well.
Steven Jackson, Patriots vs. KC ($3300 DK, $4800 FD, $3900 FS)
What is this 2009? Steven Jackson has been named the workhorse back for New England going into the playoffs. Now considering Bill Belichick’s history, that probably means he will be a game-day inactive. He did score a TD in Week 17 while out-touching James White 15-5. Meanwhile, over the last three weeks, Kansas City has allowed similar mediocre bowling-ball-backs like Alfred Blue and Isaiah Crowell to punish them.
Weekly strategy – Odds are we will be without Antonio Brown this week. It is also fairly likely that Jeremy Maclin will be limited at best, plus redraft-MVP, Doug Baldwin gets to deal with the Norman Conquest. That makes three of the top six WRs less than desirable plays. I will be all over the Cardinals and Broncos WRs this week as they have the best matchups. I also don’t mind the Patriots’ and Packers’ WRs. I do have three cheap options that I will probably rotate amongst my lineup cards: Chris Conley, Albert Wilson, and Devin Funchess. None of those three is a sure thing, but with so much money thrown at QB/RB, I feel this is my best saving strategy.
Pay To Play
Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos vs. PIT ($5800 DK, $7700 FD, $7900 FS)
and Demaryius Thomas, Broncos vs. PIT ($7000 DK, $8100 FD, $8500 FS)
Emmanuel Sanders absolutely destroyed Pittsburgh back in Week 15. He caught 10-181-1 off the hands of Brock Osweiler. Demaryius Thomas got into the fun too catching a pair of TDs. With holes at the top of the WR class, these two are each a good option and may be a perfect triple-stack with Peyton.
Doug Baldwin, Seahawks @ CAR ($6800 DK, $7400 FD, $8300 FS)
I refused to play Julio Jones and DeAndre Hopkins and even Odell Beckham versus Josh Norman, do you really think I’d trust Johnny-come-lately-Doug Baldwin against him? That said Baldwin did score 12 TDs over the last eight weeks and once again last week in the Wildcard round. You are hoping for the TD this week if you start Baldwin, of course Carolina allowed only three WR touchdowns at home all season.
Chris Conley, Chiefs @ NE ($3000 DK, $4600 FD, $2300 FS)
Kansas City will be forced to throw the rock to stay in this contest. Unfortunately, they may be without their best pass-catcher. If Jeremy Maclin is a no-go, Chris Conley will get the start and both he and Albert Wilson make sneaky plays. I prefer Conley slightly because he is cheaper (except at FS) and New England will cover Wilson with their top corner. In addition, Conley scored last week and back in Week 7 when Jeremy Maclin missed the game, it was Conley (not Wilson) that led the team in targets, receptions, and he was the one who scored there too. For their behalf, New England gave up 33-521-4 to opposing WRs in the last two weeks of the regular season.
|Ted Ginn Jr.||$5,000||$6,500||$6,700|
Weekly strategy – Rob Gronkowski’s price isn’t horrible but his matchup isn’t very nice. Meanwhile, Greg Olsen and Travis Kelce each bring cause for excitement. I also like Richard Rodgers but if I don’t pay up for Olsen or Kelce, I will likely roster either of the Broncos or Darren Fells.
Pay To Play
Greg Olsen, Panthers vs. SEA ($6900 DK, $6500 FD, $7900 FS)
Despite being the only legit receiving weapon at the time, Greg Olsen obliterated Seattle back in Week 6. In that game he posted 7-131-1 against them. Now that Carolina has developed a couple other weapons to draw some shade for Olsen, I expect an even better line this time.
Rob Gronkowski, Patriots vs. KC ($7500 DK, $8300 FD, $8400 FS)
First off, Listen, I know Gronk is Gronk. Now listen to me, Kansas City is awesome against tight ends. They rank third best in total receptions, yardage allowed, and touchdowns allowed to the position. Only two teams have topped 70 yards from the position against the Chiefs the last two seasons.
Owen Daniels, Broncos vs. PIT ($2500 DK, $4800 FD, $4200 FS)
Among the remaining playoff teams, none has given up as many yards, receptions, or TDs as Pittsburgh. Owen Daniels finished the season getting way more targets and usage than Vernon Davis, but both make decent punt plays at TE with their salaries so low (especially at FS).
Weekly strategy – I feel Denver against a battered Big Ben is the best bet but none of the defenses are an awful play except Green Bay or Pittsburgh. The Patriots could also be a sneaky play as they are facing the least-dynamic opposing QB.
Pay To Play
Denver Broncos, Broncos vs. PIT ($3900 DK, $5300 FD, $3500 FS)
Pittsburgh may be without Big Ben and even if he goes his arm strength will be limited plus his top WR is almost certain to miss this game. When he does finally get knocked out, the Broncos get to feast on Landry Jones’ not-ready-for-primetime skill set. Pittsburgh has turned the ball over multiple times in ten of their eleven games. This includes turning it over twice versus Denver in Week 15.
Green Bay Packers, Packers @ ARI ($3400 DK, $4200 FD, $2800 FS)
Arizona has allowed two or fewer sacks in every game except two this season. They have also turned the ball over only seven times over their last seven games.
New England Patriots, Patriots vs. KC ($3500 DK, $4700 FD, $2900 FS)
Kansas City will be playing this game with their top receiving option either out or extremely limited. Either way, it poses a potential issue for the offense as a whole. Personally, I expect that Alex Smith will post ok numbers with the weapons he has to work with and that he still may even do well with them. He will have to, since New England is tough against the run (8 of last 11 opponents failed to top 100 rushing yards against them). Smith was sacked three times last week. It was the ninth time this year that KC has allowed three sacks or more in a game. New England meanwhile ranked second in sacks this year.