Well Wildcard week was certainly “wild”. We got a lot of nothing from a fantasy perspective, as not even the better offenses showed up. This week, we get all the elite offenses back. This will actually make things harder as there are more reasonable options for RB2, WR3 and FLEX. This also means the payout lines will be higher, so you really have to make sure you avoid the right players.
Indianapolis Colts @ Kansas City Chiefs:
The Colts have allowed only one QB to throw for more than one touchdown over their last eight games. Of course, they haven’t faced anyone on par with Patrick Mahomes during that span. In fact, on the year, Indy only faced two QBs that finished in the top ten in yardage and only five that finished in the top half of the league. I need to applaud the talent that they developed on defense, but Mahomes and company should still eat here. Cincy, however, has been one of the leagues’ worst against opposing QBs. This is why, while I like Mahomes this week, I prefer both Drew Brees and Andrew Luck on the Full Slate. Mahomes will still throw for 300-3 which makes him 3X safe on DK, but he may fall slightly short on FD. Luck will post a similar line playing keep up, and he is a little cheaper.
The Colts’ run defense is a little-more tested having allowed under 100 RB rushing yards in 15/18 games. This (combined with potential Spencer Ware vultures) may limit my exposure to Damien Williams on the Full Slate. I’ll still have some shares of Williams as a RB2/FLEX on the Saturday-Only slate, since his price is very sweet. Marlon Mack sets up gorgeously here as well, and he is my preferred RB2 option on Saturday-Only. I could conceivably go whole-hog on the RB position and roster Williams, Mack and Ezekiel Elliott on Saturday. Of course, then I will be building my WR corps from the likes of Chris Conley, Dontrelle Inman and Josh Reynolds.
Speaking of Inman, I love him this weekend. He will be my one of my favorite WR2. T.Y. Hilton’s price on DK is considerably better than his price on FD. He is also cheaper than the other top WR options this week. If I don’t use Inman, Hilton will be my WR1. Due to his price and the potential for a big score here, even Chester Rogers is in play as a possible WR3/FLEX. For the Chiefs, Tyreek Hill is a little higher-priced than I would prefer, so he is probably out on the Full Slate. He still should have some consideration as my #2 choice on Saturday-Only. Sammy Watkins may return this week, but I’d like to see him play a whole game before I go overboard rostering him. I’d actually prefer he doesn’t play, if so, Chris Conley becomes a must-start on both slates at WR3/FLEX. Kelvin Benjamin isn’t worth it, even though his price is miniscule.
I’m happy to pay any price for either Eric Ebron or Travis Kelce. In fact, I could easily choose to start both of them in this game. Ebron is a tad cheaper, and both will score at least once, but Kelce will end up with more yardage and receptions. Starting either of these defenses is suicide.
Dallas Cowboys @ Los Angeles Rams:
I’m nowhere near as excited for this game from a fantasy standpoint. Dallas’ defense is no joke and the Rams defense isn’t bad either. The pass rush in particular should disturb Dak Prescott. Since the return of Aqib Talib, only one team has had passing success against the Rams. Jared Goff has more upside than Dak, but I see no reason to use him on either slate.
The same goes for Todd Gurley. His price is too high coming off the injury and facing a very good Dallas run defense. I’ll use him as a contrarian play on Saturday-only, but nothing else. Ezekiel Elliott is the opposite. His price is also high, but he has been so dominant over the last few weeks, that you can’t ignore him. He will be my RB1 on both slates. The only players I will even slightly consider pivoting with are Alvin Kamara and Gurley, and I already told you I’m not overly interested in Gurley.
Amari Cooper on paper looks like a tough play, but despite the return of Talib, opposing WR1 have assassinated the Rams the last few weeks. He is my #1 option (based on price) on Saturday-Only and only Michael Thomas and T.Y. Hilton offer a higher floor among the higher-priced options on the Full Slate. Of course, they both cost considerably more. Cole Beasley and Michael Gallup make not-so-interesting-but-cheap WR3/FLEX options and Tavon Austin makes an intriguing punt play (based on the injuries sustained by the Cowboys’ other WRs). Dallas has a very good pass defense, but recently they have struggled some. Speed WRs and slot guys in particularly have caused them headaches. This is why I am more interested in Josh Reynolds and Brandin Cooks, than Robert Woods (who is fast, but not as fast as Cooks) this week. Nevertheless, I am scared that the threesome will eat themselves, leaving none of them with a high ceiling. Considering the prices, Reynolds has the most upside. He will be my pivot from Dontrelle Inman on Saturday-Only, and he will jockey with Inman, Ginn, M. Williams and Agholor at WR2 on the Full Slate.
The Cowboys have struggled with elite tight ends, but they have been very good against middle of the road options. Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee fit that description. The return of Todd Gurley should also eat into their targets. I’m just not interested in over-investing in them. The Rams, however, have struggled with most of the tight ends they have faced. This puts Blake Jarwin into consideration as a TE-punt (if he plays). Unfortunately, his status is very much in doubt. If he doesn’t play, Dalton Schultz could be a sneaky punt option as well. I just doubt that I will be overly invested with Kelce, Ebron, and Zach Ertz available this week. The Rams’ defense is definitely the safest on the entire slate, but I tend to choose a cheaper option for GPPs. Dallas is dirt cheap, and they seem like the best play on Saturday-only at least.
Los Angeles Chargers @ New England Patriots:
The Chargers’ roadshow continues its’ cross-country tour at Foxboro this Sunday. The Patriots are not the sure-thing that they used to be, but they are still one of the best that the AFC has to offer. The New England defense allowed 13 passing TDs at home this season, but seven of those came at the hands of Andrew Luck and Patrick Mahomes. They gave up six passing TDs in the other six home games. Meanwhile, the Chargers have given up 15 passing TDs total over their last 13 games. Neither trend suggests that Tom Brady or Philip Rivers are a must-start. That said, something about this game screams throw the trends out the window. I’m not counting on more than 250-2 from either of them, but there is enough “blow-up the slate” upside in each of them, to have minimal exposure at least. With a thinner ceiling, I’m more likely to get involved with these two on the Sunday-Only.
Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler both make solid plays on the Sunday-Only slate. I’d be more exposed to them on the Full Slate if Gordon wasn’t dinged up. Contrary to what I would’ve thought coming in, the Patriots do give up a fair volume of rushing yards, but they are actually above average against pass-catching backs. That only adds to my fear of being over-exposed to these two. On the other side, the Chargers are downright rotten against pass-catching backs. Plus, they aren’t horrible against the run, but they aren’t elite either. I’m not trusting Rex Burkhead here, but I will have some access to Sony Michel. Then there is James White. The playoffs are White’s playground. He is the #1 option on Sunday-Only (yes more so than even Alvin Kamara) and probably the #3 option overall for this weekend. I will have extensive exposure to him at RB2 or FLEX.
Last week, Michael Crabtree was the first WR since Week 3 to score more than once again the Chargers. In fact, they haven’t allowed any team other than the Ravens last week to score more than one WR touchdown total since Week 4. This is why I am not interested in Chris Hogan or Philip Dorsett or Cordarelle Patterson. One of them might score, but in all likelihood, they are going to split about 8-140 among them. The only Patriots’ WR I trust is Julian Edelman. He is a PPR beast and his price is reasonable. On the Sunday-Only slate he is a solid WR2, on the Full Slate he is more of a WR2 pivot. The Patriots tend to shut down an opposition’s top WR, but they do struggle with premium WRs that run out of the slot. This suggests that Keenan Allen is a serviceable play, but not an elite one. I’m more scared to play Mike Williams extensively, but his price is very sweet. It will be hard to not have exposure to him on both slates, just don’t expect any wide-open scores like the last two weeks. Tyrell Williams is dead to me, I feel better throwing in Travis Benjamin as a punt FLEX at roughly the same cost.
The Chargers have been solid against TEs this year, and Rob Gronkowski has fallen into TD-dependent territory. That is not the combo I want at his current price. I’ll stack him with Julian and Brady on a couple Sunday-Only lineups, but in general I am just going to avoid him. Hunter Henry will be back this week. That melts both his and Antonio Gates’ value. Of course, New England is pretty horrible at covering TEs, so either could be a TD-dependent option. At their price, a score will pretty much guarantee 3X performance. That is all you can ask for them as a punt option. The Chargers’ defense might be a sneaky play, but I slightly prefer the Cowboys at their value price. I don’t want the Patriots’ defense here, after seeing how strong the Chargers’ O-line looked last week.
Philadelphia Eagles @ New Orleans Saints:
The million-dollar question is, “Will the Nick Foles’ playoff magic show return yet again this weekend?” At this point, I can’t really bet against it. I don’t love the matchup, and his FD price is far too high, but he is on an absurd roll. One thing is for certain, Drew Brees is at home. That equates to Donald Trumpian “Yuuuuuge” numbers. In seven home games this season, Brees has thrown 21 TDs. One of those games was Week 11 versus the Eagles. In that game, Brees threw for 363-4. Since then, the Eagles’ secondary has gotten progressively worse. I feel 350-4 sounds about right this week too. That is why he is the option A1 at QB this weekend for me. I will gladly vacillate between him and Luck. As for Sunday-Only, Brees is the only answer you need to know.
Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram are both solid plays here. I prefer Kamara because Philly is far worse against pass-catching backs than they are against rushers. That said, both had huge games against Philly back in Week 11. On the Sunday-Only I will likely have one of them at RB2 alongside White. On the Full Slate, I will probably just go with Kamara, and then only as a pivot from Zeke. Philly’s backfield is a muddled mess, and New Orleans kicks butt against the run. The only play worth anything is Darren Sproles. Here is hoping that he is used more in the passing game than he was last week. Based on presumed volume and game script, I will roster Sproles a fair amount at FLEX.
Michael Thomas is the surest-thing out there this week. It was generous of both sites to not raise his price into the stratosphere. His price is still high, so I won’t be exclusively locked into him, but he is certainly my option B at WR1 behind Amari Cooper. I also am not unwilling to pay down at RB2, so that I can fit both Cooper and Thomas in. If I do fade Thomas (for whatever reason), I will make sure to roster Ted Ginn instead, so that I have some exposure to this passing offense. TreQuan Smith and Keith Kirkwood are both punt play dart throws, but with so many implied points, you could do worse. Alshon Jeffery gets the fun task of being shadowed by Marshon Lattimore. So much for Nick Foles looking his way. I feel better about starting Golden Tate or Nelson Agholor. In fact, Agholor will be one of my favorite WR3 options on both slates.
Philly is very good against TEs and Dan Arnold, Josh Hill and Ben Watson are just guys. I can’t get excited about any of them, even on a weak Sunday-Only slate. Zach Ertz has a tough matchup too, plus Dallas Goedert has started to vulture looks. I’ll probably be forced to roster one of those two on Sunday-Only, but neither will be in my Full Slate lineups. The Saints have a solid play for defense, but they are the highest priced team on both sites. I’ll have some minimal exposure to them. The Eagles, not so much. They might give up 50 points here. I’d rather roster a team that is not playing this week (even though I don’t think that is legal), than risk the Eagles’ defense here.
Here are my Full Slate recommended lineups.
At DK: $6.2K for Andrew Luck, $14K total for Ezekiel Elliott and Marlon Mack, $6.5K for Amari Cooper, $9.5K total for WR2/WR3 (leaning Ted Ginn and Dontrelle Inman), $7K for Travis Kelce, $4.9K for James White at FLEX, and $2.2K for the Cowboys defense.
At FD: $8.7K for Drew Brees, $8.7K for Zeke, $6.1K for Damian Williams, $15.2K total for Cooper and Michael Thomas, $5.6K for Josh Reynolds, $6.6K for Eric Ebron, $4.5K for Ginn at FLEX, and $4.2K for the Cowboys defense.
At Fanball: Luck, Elliott, White, Ginn, Hilton, Agholor, Kelce, Sproles and the Cowboys defense.
At Fantasy Draft: Luck, Elliott, White, Thomas, Cooper, Kelce, Mack, Blake Jarwin or Dalton Schultz at 2ndFLEX, and the Cowboys defense.
Weekly strategy – Andrew Luck and Drew Brees are both in play as my QBs this week. I will have some exposure to Patrick Mahomes, but most of that will be at DK. Any other play would be purely contrarian.
Pay to Play:
Drew Brees, Saints vs. PHI ($6700 DK, $8700 FD)
Drew Brees posted 363-4 against this same team back in Week 11. Well, that statement is not completely true. You see back then, Philadelphia had a few fewer injuries in their secondary. So, there is a legit argument for Brees outperforming that line this week. If he posts half the numbers from that earlier game, he will still return 2X on his price. This is the reason that I am so heavily invested in him and Luck this week.
Tom Brady, Patriots vs. LAC ($5600 DK, $8200 FD)
Tom Brady at home always has the chance to blow up. That said, Brady is getting older. He doesn’t have his top WR. Rob Gronkowski is a shell of his former self. Plus, the Chargers have an incredibly good pass defense. At $5.6K on DK, I can throw a few Patriots’ stacks as a contrarian play. Unfortunately, his FD price is inconceivable. I’m not going to pay for FD’s pricing mistakes.
Nick Foles, Eagles @ NO ($5400 DK, $7400 FD)
Do you believe in magic? The citizens of Philadelphia do. Nick Foles is doing everything in his power to get one last big payday. New Orleans isn’t a bad defense. In fact, they have one of the best young cornerbacks in football. I fully expect Marshon Lattimore to make Alshon Jeffery a non-factor. Then why am I recommending Foles here? He has more weapons than just Jeffery. If I choose to go down this rabbit hole. I will go full-bore. Give me the stack with Foles, Darren Sproles, Nelson Agholor (or Golden Tate) and Zach Ertz.
|Todd Gurley II||$8,000||$9,000|
|Melvin Gordon III||$6,200||$7,400|
Weekly strategy – Ezekiel Elliott and James White are the top two options on this slate. Alvin Kamara is my Zeke-pivot, and Marlon Mack is my White-pivot. I could also try to sneak one of them in at FLEX, if I spend less at WR2/TE. I will also have some exposure to Damien Williams on Saturday-Only and Mark Ingram, Sony Michel and Darren Sproles on Sunday.
Pay to Play:
Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys @ LAR ($8200 DK, $8700 FD)
All you need to know about the Rams’ run defense recent struggles, is that Mike Davis, Wendell Smallwood and the undead corpse of Alfred Morris all battered them. Of course, quality backs have beat up this team as well. In fact, backs on par with Ezekiel Elliott, such as: Alvin Kamara, Melvin Gordon, Chris Carson, Kareem Hunt and David Johnson all posted monster games against this supposedly strong front four. Zeke has been white-hot, topping 100 total yards in every start dating back to Week 9. From Week 9 to Week 16 (Zeke skipped Week 17), Elliott ranks seventh in total receptions. Not just among RBs, among all of football. Oh yeah, he also posted 816 rushing yards over that span. His price is high, but you don’t want to be the guy to not roster him when he goes off. The only player I will pivot from him for is Alvin Kamara.
Todd Gurley, Rams vs. DAL ($8000 DK, $9000 FD)
Is Todd Gurley fully healthy? We believe so, but will the Rams give him his full complement of touches? Will it matter against an elite run defense? The Cowboys have only given up four 100-yard running back rushing performances all year. Of course, two of those came in the final three weeks. Gurley will have a pretty solid line here, but I’m truly afraid that Los Angeles takes it easy on him. At this price, the best you’ll get is mid 2X from him on DK and perhaps not even 2X on FD. That is not what I want in a RB1.
James White, Patriots vs. LAC ($4900 DK, $7400 FD)
When I first looked at James White’s price on FD, I thought wow that could return 3X value. Then I looked at his DK price and my jaw dropped. White has a legit chance at 4X on DK this week. White has only 298 total yards over the last two years’ playoffs (six games). That said, he also has eight TDs over that span. Bill Belichick turns White into the offensive focal point when the calendar flips, especially through the air. This sets up beautifully because the Chargers allowed the fourth-most RB receptions this year, and the second-most RB receiving yards during the regular season.
|Ted Ginn Jr.||$4,400||$4,500|
Weekly strategy – Amari Cooper, T.Y. Hilton, and Michael Thomas are the top options this week. I will have at least one of them in each of my lineups. I will even push to squeeze two of them in. If I end up tight for cash, I would use Ted Ginn or Dontrelle Inman at WR2, instead of their respective top options. Mike Williams and Nelson Agholor will be my other WR2 options and either could also slide to WR3. Otherwise expect me to use Josh Reynolds or Chris Conley there.
Pay to Play:
Amari Cooper, Cowboys @ LAR ($6500 DK, $6800 FD)
Despite a solid defense, Los Angeles has allowed some huge games to WR1s recently. In reality, Cooper will probably finish the weekend with fewer total points than T.Y. Hilton or Michael Thomas. Of course, he is cheaper than each of them, so his ROI will be higher. That will be important to help you squeeze in the higher priced RBs and one of the higher priced TEs.
Alshon Jeffery, Eagles @ NO ($5800 DK, $7300 FD)
Two words, “Marshon Lattimore”. I actually feel that Nick Foles could have some success this week. Unfortunately, none of that success will be because of Alshon Jeffery. Despite playing from behind the entire game, Jeffery finished with only 4-33 back in Week 11. Yuck!
Ted Ginn, Saints vs. PHI ($4400 DK, $4500 FD)
Philly allowed TreQuan Smith to finish Week 11 with 10-157-1. After that game, Smith had six more catches the entirety of the rest of the season. Only one of the games was impacted by Ted Ginn’s return. In Week 16, Ginn had eight targets, five catches and 74 yards. Now, I’m not saying that Ginn is a better WR than TreQuan, but Ginn is the starter as long as he is healthy. That means, that he will be the one getting the lions’ share of the 13 targets that Smith got in Week 11.
Weekly strategy – Pay up for Eric Ebron and/or Travis Kelce, don’t get too cute about it. If you need to punt, go with one of the Chargers, one of the Rams or Blake Jarwin (if he plays). That said, you shouldn’t have to. I’d rather spend down elsewhere.
Pay to Play:
Travis Kelce, Chiefs vs. IND ($7000 DK, $7500 FD)
No team allowed more TE receptions or yardage than Indy during the regular season. Travis Kelce finished with two games under 50 yards for the season. From Week 2 on, he averaged 6.8-89. That should be his floor this week. I’m surprised that Kelce’s price is so low here considering the matchup. Fitting him into your lineup should be roster-build step 1.
Zach Ertz, Eagles @ NO ($5700 DK, $7400 FD)
I cannot complain at all about that cheap DK price for Zach Ertz. I can however swear like a sailor about his high price on FD. How is he the same price as Kelce this week there? Both are elite superstar tight ends. The difference is in their opponents. New Orleans allowed an average of 3.2-39 to opposing TEs. Indy allowed an average of 6.4-75 to opposing TEs. That is nearly double the receptions and yardage per game! Even more amazing, looking at their schedules, I’d argue that New Orleans faced more upper-echelon TEs than Indy did.
Hunter Henry, Chargers @ NE ($2800 DK, $4900 FD)
New England has allowed nine different teams to top 50 yards with their TEs. In addition, only six teams allowed more TE touchdowns this season. Unlike last week, Hunter Henry is a definite go for this week. Just like last week, he is very TD-dependent. Of course, if he hits that touchdown, he has already reached 3X on DK. I’d give serious consideration to using Henry on the Sunday-Only slate, if I don’t want to pay up for Gronk or Ertz in sketchy matchups.