This is the last real slate of fantasy football games for DFS players this season. Sure, there is that goofy Super Bowl-Pro Bowl two-week fiasco where you can play guys who are serious or guys who may only play partial games against zero defense. Either way that contest involves virtually no strategy. Fortunately, we get some excitement in terms of offensive potential in this week’s matchups. There are four teams left each with explosive quarterbacks and none with a pittance of a defense.
Usually with this small of slate of games picking the best plays would be simple but with all four teams having offensive upside, we really can’t limit the combinations too easily. The GPPs will likely be won by whomever identifies which scrub WR3 hits big from amongst a list of guys like Michael Floyd, Aldrick Robinson, Demarcus Ayers, and Geronimo Allison. So, the best you can do is lay out your best picks in as many different combinations as you can afford to invest with. Of course, you have 16 different QB-DEF combos alone. So, covering all your bases will take a hearty investment. I have three QBs, two TEs, two DEFs, and six RBs that I am considering. That means to cover each of those combos would require 72 lineups (288 to cover each of these combos plus all four kickers on FD). Of course, I’d still have to hit on my WRs and my FLEX on DK. Not to mention, I still have to come in under the salary cap. I’ll probably cut myself off with covering my three QBs, two TEs, and two DEFs. That secures me every favorable combo at those three positions for just 12 entries. This means I’ll still have to hit home runs on both my WRs and RBs.
My top DK lineup: Aaron Rodgers at 8.1K or Matt Ryan at 7.7K, LeVeon Bell and Tevin Coleman for a total of 15.1K, Julio Jones at WR1 for 8.2K, paired with Randall Cobb at WR2 for 5.9K, 3K-3.5K for WR3, 2.7K for Jesse James, 4.4K or 5.3K for LeGarrette Blount or Dion Lewis at DK FLEX, and 2K or 2.2K for the Green Bay or Atlanta Defense.
My top FD lineup: Ryan or Rodgers for 9.2K-9.6K, Bell and Dion Lewis for a combined 16.5K (I also don’t mind Ty Montgomery, LeGarrette Blount, or Tevin Coleman as the RB2 with Bell), Cobb and Julio for a combined 15.3K, under 5K for WR3, 5.4K for the Outlaw, 4K for either the Green Bay or Atlanta defense, and 4.6K to 5K for any of the kickers (I lean 5K for Matt Bryant).
Prices indicated: Red = Negative Value and Black = Acceptable Value and Green = Great Value
Weekly Strategy – It is very tempting to use Ben Roethlisberger at DK for a ridiculously low price. I’ll need to have some exposure to him in a Triple-B PIT stack. The savings he provides opens some flexibility in fitting in three of these four (instead of just two): Antonio Brown, LeVeon Bell, Julio Jones, and Devonta Freeman. Most of my lineups will feature Matt Ryan or Aaron Rodgers and I’ll likely fade Tom Brady on most of my cards.
Pay to Play
Matt Ryan, Falcons vs. GB ($7700 DK, $9200 FD)
New Orleans is the only team this season (including playoffs) to not allow more passing yards per game than Green Bay. The Pack has also allowed the third most passing TDs per game. Meanwhile Matt Ryan and the Falcons are third in passing yards per game and second in passing TDs (behind the Packers). This game will be a shootout, but I favor Ryan because he is: A) at home, B) not in danger of missing two of his top three WRs, C) Cheaper, D) Not running a one-dimensional offense, E) All of the Above.
Tom Brady, Patriots vs. PIT ($7100 DK, $8300 FD)
Only three teams are allowing fewer passing TDs per game than Pittsburgh. Ironically the Steelers are playing even better defense away from Heinz Field. On the road, this year, the Steelers are allowing LESS THAN ONE passing touchdown per game. Tom Brady certainly has the skill to do some damage against this team, and I expect this game to still have some big points. That said, I don’t think he posts anywhere near what Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan (and perhaps even Ben Roethlisberger) will.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers @ NE ($5800 DK, $8000 FD)
There aren’t a lot of options to choose from, but frankly the cost savings here is too ridiculous to not exploit at least once. DK is basically giving you the option to punt the rest of the QBs – in exchange for the opportunity to roster LeVeon Bell, Antonio Brown, and Julio Jones. I’ll make sure to do at least one lineup as such. FD his price is more even with the rest so I doubt I will own him at all.
Weekly strategy – I have a feeling that people will avoid LeVeon Bell due to the high price and pivot to Devonta Freeman. I don’t dislike this move, but I feel there is enough middle range price quality to still pair Bell with your choice from: Tevin Coleman, Ty Montgomery, Dion Lewis, or LeGarrette Blount. I will likely roster my DK FLEX from that grouping as well.
Pay to Play
LeVeon Bell, Steelers @ NE ($10300 DK, $9500 FD)
NFL.com reported prior to last week that LeVeon Bell had averaged 180.7 yards since Week 11. According to their story, this is the fifth-most yards from scrimmage of any player over a seven-game stretch since the 1970 merger. This is the type of staggering stat that makes Bell so much better than any other RB in recent history. He only netted 166 yards against the Chiefs so that average went down a couple yards per game, but it still is beyond fathom. The only reason to not own Bell this week is to be contrarian, but even then, do you want to be that guy?
Devonta Freeman, Falcons vs. GB ($7200 DK, $8000 FD)
I actually really like Devonta Freeman this week, but there isn’t a lot of RBs that I dislike this week, and certainly none that are this high priced. This is more of a reference to the fact that you cannot afford both Bell and Freeman in the same lineup this week (unless you want to start a WR corps of Aldrick Robinson, Cobi Hamilton, and Danny Amendola). Plus, Freeman will likely split touches with Tevin Coleman once again. For split touches, I would rather have one of the Patriots’ backs for 2K-3K cheaper on DK.
Dion Lewis, Patriots vs. PIT ($5300 DK, $7000 FD)
Over their last three games, Pittsburgh is allowing 5.1 yards per carry on the ground. Dion Lewis re-emerged and stole the show from LeGarrette Blount last week scoring at will. My biggest concern here is that he gets Belichick’ed for his fumble issues last week, and James White suddenly gets turned loose.
Weekly strategy – I’ll have a few DK stacks with Antonio Brown, but Julio Jones will be my primary WR1. Unless he suffers a setback from his injury. In that case, I will have Mohamed Sanu in every single one of my lineups. Davante Adams (if he plays) and Randall Cobb will fight with each other for my WR2 slot. I’m leaning Cobb because he is a little cheaper – and healthier. My WR3 will be one of the following: Geronimo Allison (if he plays), Eli Rogers, Michael Floyd, Aldrick Robinson, or Demarcus Ayers.
Pay to Play
Julio Jones, Falcons vs. GB ($8200 DK, $8800 FD)
During the regular season Green Bay gave up 24% more WR receiving TDs than the next closest team. This included two TDs to Atlanta’s WRs back in Week 8. Julio Jones was held in check in that earlier meeting. There is no chance Green Bay shuts him down twice in a row. Especially in an offensive shootout.
Antonio Brown, Steelers @ NE ($8800 DK, $8400 FD)
I’ll actually have some exposure to Antonio Brown, especially on DK paired with Big Ben. This is more about the fact that New England will not be able to stop LeVeon Bell and may be forced to try and limit the damage by neutralizing Brown. The Patriots also allowed more than one WR touchdown only four times all season. Brown will get a healthy share of receptions and yards, but I expect Julio to outperform him at a slightly reduced cost.
Michael Floyd, Patriots vs. PIT ($3300 DK, $4700 FD)
Due to injuries, both Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan are questionable for this weekend’s game versus Pittsburgh. Right now, Hogan is likely to play, but Mitchell is far less likely. If Neither play, Michael Floyd may be forced to start. Of course, even if just one misses the game, Floyd could have upside based on volume of passes thrown by Tom Brady and Floyd’s red zone skillset. If both Mitchell and Hogan play, I will likely pivot off of Floyd to either Hogan or Mitchell, or perhaps Mohamed Sanu (even if I already own Julio Jones).
Weekly strategy – Jesse James will be my most used option. The only other guy I really like is Jared Cook, but his price is way higher than everyone else. Richard Rodgers could be an interesting punt play alternative to Cook, but I feel I’d rather roster the Outlaw for the same price.
Pay to Play
Jared Cook, Packers @ ATL ($5100 DK, $6400 FD)
In Week 8, Green Bay got a line of 0-0-0 from their TEs versus Atlanta. Of course, Jared Cook was still injured and out at the time of that game. Over the last couple weeks, Cook has established himself as one of Aaron Rodgers’ go-to options. This should continue this week with both Jordy Nelson, Geronimo Allison, and Davante Adams all questionable.
Martellus Bennett, Patriots vs. PIT ($3300 DK, $5500 FD)
Rob Gronkowski had a huge game against the Steelers in Week 7. Martellus Bennett did not. Bennett did ok this year filling in for Gronk, but the fact of the matter is that Bennett is not Gronk. Making this non-play a little easier, Bennett is battling a knee issue from last week’s game. Plus, I can start my favorite TE play of the week Jesse James for even less money on DK.
Jesse James, Steelers @ NE ($2700 DK, $5400 FD)
With Ladarius Green missing last week’s game due to a concussion, Jesse James posted a 5-83 line on six targets. Green’s prognosis isn’t any better for this week, meaning that once again James will be option C for Big Ben in the passing game (behind Antonio and LeVeon).
Weekly strategy – I’m not paying double for the Patriots on DK. There is no chance they produce twice as many points as the rest. I’ll be rostering the Falcons or Packers for half the cost and I fully expect them both to outproduce the Patriots. They also might each give up 50 points. Of course, so might Pittsburgh and New England as well.
Pay to Play
Atlanta Falcons vs. GB ($2200 DK, $4100 FD)
Green Bay will be forced to throw the ball to keep up with the Falcons’ offense (and because their rushing game is mediocre). Atlanta will love a one-dimensional opponent, as it will allow Vic Beasley and their defense to pin their ears back. Aaron Rodgers can make miracles happen when he starts running around behind the line of scrimmage (some people may say supplemented by referees’ blind eyes), but the Atlanta linebacker corps have the speed to hang with him. Plus, there remains a chance that GB could be without Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, and Geronimo Allison. If all three miss this game, Green Bay will need Jeff Janis to step up (something that could break Twitter) – if that is the case, cue up the Crying Jordan meme photoshopped on a #12 Packers’ jersey.
New England Patriots vs. PIT ($4000 DK, $4400 FD)
Twice as much as the next team! What the heck is DK thinking? The Patriots defense is not twice as good as the other three teams. In fact, they may be the worst play of the four. This ranking has to be based on fear of Ben Roethlisberger’s struggles away from home, or perhaps the fear of a high score between Green Bay and Atlanta. Either way, I’m not paying twice as much as one of the other options.
Green Bay Packers @ ATL ($2000 DK, $4000 FD)
Over their last six games, Green Bay’s defense has recorded 14 sacks and 16 takeaways. A lot of this has been predicated on their opponents falling behind early and being forced to throw to keep up. Atlanta isn’t as likely to be playing from behind, but they will still need to keep up. Based on the high volume of passes that Atlanta attempts, they actually do give up a lot of sacks. On the season (plus playoffs), they have allowed sacks on a league ninth-worst 6.5% of their plays.