For the playoffs, instead of breaking down the top four performers at each position, I will give you my “pay to play”, “stay away” and “value play” selections just like we feature on the @BlitzedPodcast.
Quarterback, Running Back and Defense are the weakest positions this week. Wide receiver has the most depth, but it is also top-heavy. If you don’t spend up there you will be left rostering a real dart throw at WR3. Nevertheless, you will be forced to spend up at RB1 and RB2, to stay competitive. This will put a strain on your WR-expenditures. That is unless you feel comfortable punting WR1 or TE.
The Saturday-only slate is pretty nice. The only QB that I wouldn’t take a chance on is Marcus Mariota. What makes that surprising, is that he is facing the worst pass defense of the four of them. Devonta Freeman is the safest option at running back, and both Kareem Hunt (less-appealing matchup) and Todd Gurley (ridiculously high salary) are in play despite their knocks. Derrick Henry has some volume-play potential, but I’m scared that DeMarco Murray comes back and they vulture each other’s value. Tevin Coleman can be used to save money (or as a pivot from Devonta). If Freeman’s knee becomes a further issue, then Coleman could be 100% owned. At WR, Julio Jones will be owned far too frequently based on his price. I prefer Mohamed Sanu this week, although I’d also consider Taylor Gabriel. If I do spend up, it would likely be for Tyreek Hill. If I don’t, then Albert Wilson could be on all of my rosters. More than likely, I target one or two of the Rams’ trio (Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Sammy Watkins). I like both Rishard Matthews and Eric Decker but would only target one of the two. I like all four of the top tight ends (Travis Kelce, Delanie Walker, Austin Hooper and Tyler Higbee) and feel fine with any of them. OF course, if you have the funds just get Kelce since he is a stud. Harrison Butker and Matt Bryant are the safest kicker options. Bryant may be the safest since he shouldn’t have to worry about cold weather conditions. At defense, Kansas City and the Rams are the most valuable – and both come at a very reasonable price.
The Sunday-only slate is a little tougher. Drew Brees is the only safe pay at QB. Running back features the Saints’ duo against a Carolina defense that has stopped every running back pairing EXCEPT them. It also features both Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette in premiere matchups. LeSean McCoy may play (but his injury suggests he shouldn’t). If he doesn’t, then both Marcus Murphy and Mike Tolbert are in play as cheap volume options (despite a less than stellar matchup). At WR, Michael Thomas is a sure thing, but after that, it is a bunch of dart throws. Ted Ginn is a cheap, but very-risky pivot options. Carolinas’ wide receivers are all injured, Cam Newton is off mechanically and New Orleans’ secondary is very good. All of those things add up to benching all of them (even Devin Funchess). Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole are both red-hot, but Buffalo is near impossible to score against with WRs. Speaking of impossible to score against with WRs, Jacksonville is as strong as they come. Kelvin Benjamin is the only possible Buffalo wide receiver play (and I don’t like it). I will probably be forced to roster Thomas, Ginn and one of the Jaguars – while I hold my nose. Charles Clay is the safest play at TE. I can understand rostering Greg Olsen. That said, if I don’t roster Clay, I’ll likely punt with Josh Hill or Marcedes Lewis. At kicker, weather shouldn’t be a factor, so go with your preference. Stephen Hauschka is the only kicker I don’t like this week. For the first time, Carolina is the only defense to avoid. The price for the Jaguars is high, but they should be worth it, and Buffalo makes a cheap pivot.
The big GPPs will feature both days, so our rankings below are based on playing full-slate games. That said, I highly recommend you invest in some one-day-only slate games too. Each of these has a small enough pool of practical players, that finding the big bucks will be easy.
Prices indicated: Red = Negative Value and Black = Acceptable Value and Green = Great Value
Weekly Strategy – Jared Goff and Alex Smith are the best plays. Drew Brees and Matt Ryan are usable, but not loved. Cam Newton can’t hit the broad side of a barn now, making him and Marcus Mariota the only two QBs I won’t touch.
Pay to Play
Jared Goff, Rams vs. ATL ($6700 DK, $8500 FD)
Jared Goff is averaging nearly 40 more passing yards per game at home, but he has actually thrown fewer touchdowns at home this year. Meanwhile, Atlanta has allowed nine passing touchdowns over the last five weeks (this includes Cam Newton’s craptastic performance last week). With so many questions surrounding the other QBs, Goff is the safest play.
Cam Newton, Panthers @ NO ($6500 DK, $8300 FD)
Something isn’t quite right with Cam Newton. Last week, Cam was absurdly bad. Either he wasn’t on the same page with his receivers, he has given up, or he is injured. Making it worse for Cam, he gets to face a New Orleans’ defense that has held him to 183.5 yards per game (and just two passing touchdowns) over two games this year.
Tyrod Taylor, Bills @ JAX ($4700 DK, $6900 FD)
You never want to play a quarterback against the stingy Jaguars’ pass defense. That said, at only $4.7K on DK, I may give him a lineup or two. Jacksonville still has allowed zero or one passing touchdown in 12 of 16 games, but they have been a little more flexible of late allowing a total of seven passing touchdowns to Arizona, Seattle and San Francisco. The reason I have more faith in Tyrod Taylor this week is that with LeSean McCoy likely out, Taylor may gain more yards on the ground. He may also vulture a rushing score. I’m not going to pay up for him at FD, but I’ll consider him on DK.
|Todd Gurley II||$9,700||$10,000|
Weekly strategy – Todd Gurley is a stud, but his price is so high, that he is hard to roster. I prefer some combo of: Devonta Freeman, Christian McCaffrey, Leonard Fournette or one of the Saints’ backs. If LeSean McCoy cannot go, then I’d consider either Marcus Murphy or Mike Tolbert as a punt play. They would also be good options at DK-FLEX (along with Jonathan Stewart).
Pay to Play
Leonard Fournette, Jaguars vs. BUF ($7400 DK, $8100 FD)
Buffalo has allowed the most running back rushing touchdowns, and the second most total running back rushing yards. This includes five games with two or more touchdowns allowed and a season average of 143 combo yards per game allowed. Leonard Fournette has scored in three straight games, giving him ten total touchdowns on the year. A score or two here is a foregone conclusion. The bigger question is how many total yards he will acquire.
LeSean McCoy, Bills @ JAX ($7500 DK, $7900 FD)
First off, LeSean McCoy is hurt and probably shouldn’t play. He says he wants to, and that may make the matter worse, if he convinces you that he is playing and then he leaves in the middle of the first quarter. If that risk wasn’t bad enough, he will face a Jacksonville run defense that has shut out opposing RBs 12 times this season (including seven of the last eight they have faced).
Tevin Coleman, Falcons @ LAR ($4100 DK, $5700 FD)
Tevin Coleman typically plays just enough to frustrate Devonta Freeman’s owners. Against this defense, both should feast. The Rams have allowed seven running back rushing touchdowns, over the last seven weeks. Plus, they have allowed an average of 4.6 yards per carry this year. Coleman has more total touchdowns this season than Freeman (thanks to three receiving scores). I feel both will score and if the game script calls for more passing than rushing, Coleman will definitely have greater value at a lesser price.
|Ted Ginn Jr.||$5,200||$5,900|
Weekly strategy – I will fade Julio Jones in most of my lineups, and go with Michael Thomas at WR1 instead. Tyreek Hill also will get some WR1 play from me. At WR2, I will roster one of the Rams’ wide receivers. For WR3, I will choose between Keelan Cole, Rishard Matthews, Ted Ginn, Eric Decker and Albert Wilson.
Pay to Play
Michael Thomas, Saints vs. CAR ($7800 DK, $8300 FD)
Carolina has allowed 12-157-2 to Michael Thomas over two meetings this season. Thomas also scored in one of his two games against them last year. A score is a formality, I just hope he finally tops 100 yards against the Panthers. Worst case scenario, expect another 7-75-1, best case scenario, Thomas hits double-digit catches and tops the century mark.
Devin Funchess, Panthers @ NO ($5900 DK, $7000 FD)
With Cam Newton struggling, it would make sense that his top WR would struggle too. Funchess has only eight targets over the last two weeks accounting for only four catches and 30 yards. He certainly has seen his stats improve since Kelvin Benjamin left, but looking closer you’ll realize that he only has one game with more than five receptions, since Week 6. That doesn’t make me warm and fuzzy when I consider that he will also be shadowed by rookie phenom Marshon Lattimore, who missed their first two meetings due to injuries.
Albert Wilson, Chiefs vs. TEN ($3300 DK, $5200 FD)
Over the last five games, Albert Wilson has only 15 catches. He does, however, have 29 targets which is third best on the Chiefs over that span. Meanwhile, Tennessee has shutout opposing WR teams five times over their last six games. That said, the Titans have given up huge yardage to the position in most of those contests (including big games by non-WR1s. The few exceptions were against subpar quarterbacks like Blaine Gabbert and Jacoby Brissett. Alex Smith isn’t great, but he is better than them.
Weekly strategy – Travis Kelce is the safest play and he will be in most of my lineups. I don’t mind Charles Clay or Greg Olsen, but don’t love them either. Delanie Walker or Austin Hooper may actually be safer than either of them. Tyler Higbee and Josh Hill are my tight end punt plays of the week.
Pay to Play
Travis Kelce, Chiefs vs. TEN ($7100 DK, $7700 FD)
Travis Kelce is the highest priced tight end this week and the most talented. Kelce’s yardage numbers have been down recently, but he is still racking up receptions, targets and touchdowns. This week he gets to face a team that was battered by most tight ends recently. Cincinnati, the Rams and Jacksonville (three teams that don’t feature their TEs) are the only teams to not post huge numbers against them.
Greg Olsen, Panthers @ NO ($5000 DK, $6500 FD)
I don’t dislike Greg Olsen this week. I just dislike his quarterback. It was so awful, that it appeared as if Cam Newton was deliberately missing Olsen last week. Olsen’s price tag is close enough to safer options like Delanie Walker and Charles Clay, that I don’t want to risk additional shoddy Cam-play here.
Austin Hooper, Falcons @ LAR ($2900 DK, $4800 FD)
Austin Hooper 3:16 says, “the Rams can’t cover quality tight ends”. Over the last five games, Los Angeles has allowed an average of 67 yards per game to the position, to go along with four touchdowns. Hooper’s numbers are disappointing, but this could be a safe week to play him – especially if you cannot afford Kelce.
Weekly strategy – The Jaguars, Chiefs and Saints are the safest options. They are also the most expensive. You can probably find a way to fit one of them into your lineup. The Bills and Falcons make sneaky-cheap punt plays. The only teams I won’t consider are the Titans and Panthers.
Pay to Play
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. BUF ($4400 DK, $5600 FD)
Buffalo has scored the fewest total points among playoff teams this season. In comparison, Jacksonville has allowed the second-fewest points per game. The Bills are one of the best of the Wild Card round teams in terms of not turning the ball over. While, Jacksonville leads the league in takeaways, so something has to give here. The Jaguars also have the second-highest sack percentage. They are teeing up to face Tyrod and the Bills, who rank third-worst in that category.
Carolina Panthers @ NO ($2100 DK, $4200 FD)
Drew Brees was picked off three times in their first meeting. In the second game, the Saints only turned it over once. Plus, Carolina has more than two sacks only once in their last nine games. New Orleans has scored the fourth-most points per game overall, and the most points per game at home. Stay away!
Buffalo Bills @ JAX ($2500 DK, $4200 FD)
Blake Bortles scares me some. Despite his solid season, he is still Blake Bortles, and we all are awaiting the carriage turning back into a pumpkin. Buffalo’s defense is cheaper than most, making them a sneaky play. Especially, when you consider that the Bills are tied for seventh in takeaways on the season, and Jacksonville has the fourth-most turnovers over the last three weeks.