…And then there were four. You’d think it would get easier now that there are only four teams playing this week. WRONG! We have found ourselves with four of the top offenses in football locking horns here. When everyone is a good play, it is about finding who are the best plays and who are the worst of the best. This is also one of those weeks where you want to have multiple lineups because all it will take is one clown show performance to kill your roster. QB in particular is the position that you want to vary your exposure to. Build the rest of your roster and then submit a lineup with each of the four QBs.
Los Angeles Rams @ New Orleans Saints:
The Saints dominate offensively at home but they are equally tormented at home through the air. In fact, only one team is giving up more passing yardage at home this year than New Orleans. Amazingly enough, New Orleans has given up more passing yards at home this year than they have gained. That said, New Orleans has thrown for more TDs at home this year than any other team. Jared Goff is the cheapest QB on the slate and he is just as likely to go off as any of them. In their previous meeting, Goff finished with 391-3. The Rams passing defense has been better on the road than at home. They still give up a fair amount of passing TDs, but they are only allowing 214 passing yards per game on the road. At $5.9K on DK, Drew Brees is still a steal, but I have to admit that his FD price is a bit scary. That said, in the earlier meeting, Brees clobbered Los Angeles for 346-4.
Both teams have a superstar stud running back who has begun to cede touches to his equally talented understudy. For Alvin Kamara, this has been ongoing since Mark Ingram was reinstated off the suspended list earlier this year. For Todd Gurley, he has started to lose touches to C.J. Anderson, who filled in for him while he was injured. Kamara and Gurley can each post a 150-yard game without trying to hard. Anderson and Ingram are less likely to hit those lofty numbers, but anything is possible. Now here comes the rub, with all four of them on the field, the likelihood that any of them goes off is sheared. Of course, last week, Gurley and Anderson both lit up Dallas, so it can be done. Nevertheless, it isn’t easy. Considering their prices (and Anderson’s usage last week), I am all-out on Gurley on FD, and will only have a pittance of exposure to him on DK. Back in Week 9, Gurley saved an otherwise awful day with a TD. Kamara, however, scored three total TDs. Seeing as how Kamara is cheap enough to roster on either site, I will flip-flop between him and Damien Williams at RB1. Ingram and Anderson are both options at FLEX, but I won’t use them in one of my main RB slots.
The Rams are bad against #1 WRs. They are only decent against subordinate receivers. Michael Thomas is a rock star and he will return 3X value without much effort, because he is just that damn good. Back in Week 9, Thomas finished with an absurd 12-211-1. He won’t be that good again, but half of that would still be juicy. With a thin roster to choose from at WR, I will have a fair amount of exposure to Thomas at WR1. Ted Ginn is also in play here (at WR2), since Drew Brees has done everything in his power to get Ginn involved since his return. TreQuan Smith (who scored in Week 9) has not been used much since his midseason blow up, so I’m not going to bother here with him. If I need a punt at FLEX or WR3 from this game it would be Keith Kirkwood, who has received regular snaps at Smith’s loss. Brandin Cooks gets the revenge game factor, he also gets the Marshon Lattimore shadow. These two trends probably cancel each other out, making him an ok play, but not a great play. He did top 100 yards and score in the earlier meeting, so the play isn’t ridiculous. Fortunately, his price is low enough that he is in play at WR2 on DK. That said, I still prefer Robert Woods (who had 5-71 in Week 9) at WR2 or as a pivot WR1 on FD or Josh Reynolds (Cooper Kupp had 5-89-1 in that earlier game) as a WR3. Of course, I won’t roster more than one of them, unless I am doing a stack with Goff.
The Rams allow a lot of yardage to opposing TEs. This included a joint 5-72-1 to Ben Watson and Josh Hill in Week 9. Most of that went to Watson, and I love him as a cost-saving FLEX play, or TE if you fade Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce. The Saints have actually been very good at stopping opposing TEs. One of the few exceptions was Week 9 versus Los Angeles. Both Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett posted decent games. Of course, since then they have combined to post just three games with over 40 yards. I’m not going to trust them in this spot.
These two teams were among the bottom of the barrel in terms of opposing DST points scored against. I’ll probably fade both of them and just go with the Chiefs’ defense. If I had to choose one or the other, it would be the Rams since they are cheaper.
New England Patriots @ Kansas City Chiefs:
Only two teams gave up fewer points per game at home than the Chiefs. No QB threw for more than two touchdowns at Arrowhead and only two QBs topped 300 yards (one was Blake Bortles in garbage time). Tom Brady posted 340-1 against the Chiefs back in Week 6. He also added a rushing score in that game. Normally, I would say that is probably his target range again. Of course, this is Tom Brady, and this is the AFC Championship game. All bets are off. I would not be shocked to see him go off for 400-4. That said, I still feel that New England will concentrate on the run here. Patrick Mahomes posted a measly 352-4 in that earlier game. That was one of seven times this year that Mahomes threw for four or more scores. I would be shocked if he didn’t top 350-4 again here. He is the safest play on the entire docket.
Damien Williams did nothing in the earlier meeting. Of course, Kareem Hunt was the lead dog back then and he posted 185 yards and a TD. Hunt got kicked to the curb, and Spencer Ware got Wally Pipped, leaving Damien Williams as star in the making. Williams just went on to score seven TDs in five starts from Week 14 on. 125-1 sounds about right for Williams here, putting him into RB1 consideration along with Alvin Kamara. I could even choose to go with both of them. If I choose only one of them, RB2 will be either James White or Sony Michel. Both White and Michel went berserk last week. I trust White more, since he is so active in the passing game, and this game could involve 60+ pass attempts for each team. That said, both are n play, since Kansas City has been rotten against opposing RBs all season long.
Tyreek Hill destroyed the Patriots back in Week 6 as New England decided to commit one defender to both him and Kareem Hunt and put the other nine defenders on Travis Kelce instead. Something tells me that Bill Belichick won’t allow another 7-142-3 from Ty-Freak. This week Belichick may have nine defenders cover Hill instead. In all seriousness, Hill will see double-coverage at minimum in this game. He still is more dynamic and faster than anyone in the Patriots’ secondary, so he will get at least one long score here. I just feel better deploying Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson or Chris Conley considering the price differential. Break out the 3-legged stack with Mahomes-Watkins-Kelce and maybe consider quadruple-dipping with Hill, but don’t go overboard. As I just mentioned, Watkins is my preferred play here, and he will be my WR2 on a lot of rosters (even if I don’t play Mahomes). Conley and Robinson are punt WR3/FLEX types at best, unless you are doing the big stack. Kelvin Benjamin remains a meme-worthy joke at best. Julian Edelman is targeted so much that he gets value regardless of the matchup. This week, I see Edelman as a great WR2 option, or even as a pivot from Michael Thomas at WR1. Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett each received five targets last week. Dorsett turned his into 4-41-1, which was considerably better than Hogan (much to my chagrin). They are both dirt cheap this week and one almost has to be in conversation at your WR3 or FLEX. Good luck choosing which one though – oh hell, just put together another lineup with each one at that spot. One of them will hit – and hit BIG. Cordarrelle Patterson is a better football player than fantasy football player, don’t waste the roster spot there.
Neither of these teams knows how to cover TEs. You would think they would be good considering that both teams have a stud tight end to practice against during the week. Of course, at this point in his career, Rob Gronkowski’s body is only slightly more mobile than that of Bernie Lomax from the Weekend at Bernies movies. Travis Kelce is not going to receive anywhere near the level of coverage he faced in their earlier meeting. This implies that he should blow away the 5-61 line he finished with back in Week 6. Gronk finished that earlier game with 3-97. I doubt he reaches that yardage figure this week, but I smell a Gronk-Smash or two.
None of these four teams are a team you want to choose a defense against. That said, the Chiefs don’t give up many points at home. They also lead the league in turnover margin at home. These two factors make them the safest play at the position this week.
Here are my Full Slate recommended lineups.
At DK: $6.6K for Patrick Mahomes, $11.9K total for Alvin Kamara and James White, $6.6K for Julian Edelman, $8.9K total for WR2/WR3 (leaning Ted Ginn and Sammy Watkins), $7.1K for Travis Kelce, $6.4K for Damien Williams at FLEX, and $2.5K for the Chiefs defense.
At FD: $8.4K for Brady, $14.9K total for Williams and White, $14.4K total for Watkins and Michael Thomas or ($13.7K for Tyreek Hill and Ted Ginn), $5.5K or less for either Phillip Dorsett or Chris Hogan, $5.6K for Rob Gronkowski, $6.5K or less for Mark Ingram or C.J. Anderson at FLEX, and $4.2K for the Rams defense.
At Fanball: Brady, Kamara, White, Hill, Hogan, Ginn, Gronk, Williams and the Patriots defense.
At Fantasy Draft: Mahomes, Kamara, Williams, Watkins, Josh Reynolds, Kelce, White, Ginn, and the Chiefs defense.
Weekly strategy – A bit of everyone this week, stacked appropriately. I’m probably going to be most heavily invested in Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes.
Pay to Play:
Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs vs. NE ($6600 DK, $9000 FD)
I don’t love the $9K price on FD, but his DK price is juicy. Of course, Patrick Mahomes has been dynamic this season, so I don’t mind paying up for the top QB on the slate. Mahomes threw for 350 and 4 in the earlier meeting, a similar line should be in play here unless the cold temps force a more run-centric game plan. I’m not that concerned, so you shouldn’t be either. When you stack Mahomes, pair him with Sammy Watkins and Travis Kelce. I’d suggest Tyreek Hill too, but that will really pinch your pocketbook.
Drew Brees, Saints vs. LAR ($5900 DK, $8800 FD)
I don’t hate Drew Brees here. At home he is dominant. This is simply a case of Brees costing almost the same amount as Mahomes on FD. Plus, on paper, the Rams’ defense should be the best on the slate. They don’t give up a lot of yardage on the road, but they have allowed a fair share of TDs. In their earlier meeting, Brees lit them up in a shootout. So, don’t completely ignore this spot. I’ll still have some exposure to Brees stacked with either Michael Thomas or Ted Ginn (especially on DK). I might also triple up the stack with Keith Kirkwood or Ben Watson.
Jared Goff, Rams @ NO ($5400 DK, $8000 FD)
As the cheapest QB on the slate, Jared Goff makes the best potential value. We are dealing with the top four offenses in football, so it isn’t like we are pivoting to Blake Bortles here. New Orleans has one superstar cornerback. They can be beaten at other spots (cough, cough Eli Apple, Kenny Crawley and P.J. Williams). Goff has a bunch of weapons at his disposal, and he doesn’t have to worry about any weather concerns this week. Working against Goff, is that only 10 of his 32 passing TDs have come on the road this year. Of course, three of those came at New Orleans in Week 9. This is by no means a gimme, but Goff will likely have less ownership than the others. Stack him with Robert Woods, Josh Reynolds and/or Tyler Higbee.
|Todd Gurley II||$7,500||$8,500|
Weekly strategy – RB1 will be a choice between Alvin Kamara and Damien Williams. I could also roster both if I save at WR2/WR3 or TE. I don’t trust Todd Gurley’s usage recently, nor do I like his price tag. James White will be my RB2 in most situations. C.J. Anderson, Sony Michel and Mark Ingram are each in play at FLEX. Although, I may just choose to go with Kamara, Williams and White.
Pay to Play:
Alvin Kamara, Saints vs. LAR ($6500 DK, $8100 FD)
In their earlier meeting, Alvin Kamara topped 100 total yards and scored three times. He also out-touched Mark Ingram 23-10. Despite a supposed strong defense, the Rams are allowing 128 combo yards per game to opposing RBs this year. They did hold Ezekiel Elliott at bay last week, so there is some hesitance here. I just cannot fathom fading him completely on this thin of slate. I’ll gladly use him at RB1 or pivot to Damien Williams.
Todd Gurley, Rams @ NO ($7500 DK, $8500 FD)
You cannot run the ball against New Orleans. Only one team got more than 77 rushing yards out of their RBs against this defense this season. They allowed more than 100 fewer RB rushing yards than the next stiffest defense. They can be beat by pass-catching backs (which Todd Gurley most certainly is). I just don’t like paying top salary dollars for a rough matchup. Especially, since the Rams are still trying to make C.J. Anderson a thing.
Mark Ingram, Saints vs. LAR ($4600 DK, $6100 FD)
You will likely have to bite the bullet and choose between C.J. Anderson and Mark Ingram at FLEX. In that case, I will choose the one with the easier matchup. Ingram didn’t do much in their earlier meeting, but he didn’t have to because Kamara ran wild. At $4.6K on DK, I’d love to have Ingram active and blow up the slate if something happens to Kamara during this game. Even if they split touches, Ingram should return double-digit fantasy points making him a bargain.
|Ted Ginn Jr.||$4,300||$5,300|
Weekly strategy – Michael Thomas and Julian Edelman are my primary choices at WR1. I will consider pivoting to Robert Woods if I am also rostering Jared Goff. My WR2 will be Ted Ginn, Josh Reynolds or Sammy Watkins. I may also roster one of them at WR3. If not, I will go with either Chris Hogan or Phillip Dorsett. Keith Kirkwood or Chris Conley are possible punt plays here if I am tight on funds.
Pay to Play:
Michael Thomas, Saints vs. LAR ($8200 DK, $8800 FD)
When Michael Thomas last met the Rams, he torched them for 12-211-1. Of course, Aqib Talib wasn’t active for that game. Then again, since Aqib Talib returned, opposing #1 WRs such as Alshon Jeffery, Larry Fitzgerald, Amari Cooper and even the incredible Kendrick Bourne have all hit pay dirt. Thomas is better than any of them (yes, even better than Bourne). He is a target hog, on a team with questionable subordinate WRs. If he gets his usual workload, 125-1 is his floor.
Brandin Cooks, Rams @ NO ($5300 DK, $6900 FD)
Marshon Lattimore will likely be tasked with shadowing Brandin Cooks in his revenge game against the Saints. The revenge game card certainly keeps Cooks value in play, especially at only $5.3K on DK, but his FD price is more in line with the other WR1s. I feel most comfortable using him as comeback play on a team stacked with Saints. If I stack Rams, I’ll probably fade him.
Sammy Watkins, Chiefs vs. NE ($4000 DK, $5600 FD)
I feel certain that Bill Belichick will choose to shut down either Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce. He won’t be able to shut down both of them, let alone both of them and Sammy Watkins. Watkins came back from injury last week, and was targeted eight times. Non-WR1 have had success against this defense all season. This is why I am happy to use Watkins as my top WR2 this week. He will also be part of my standard Chiefs’ stack.
Weekly strategy – Pay up for Travis Kelce and hope that New England doesn’t re-deploy their “Stop-Kelce-at-all-costs defense”. Otherwise pay less for Rob Gronkowski and hope that he doesn’t tear something (other than his jersey). The last option is just punt it and roster Ben Watson.
Pay to Play:
Travis Kelce, Chiefs vs. NE ($7100 DK, $7400 FD)
Even when New England sold out to stop Travis Kelce, he still posted 5-61 against this defense. This week, I believe that Tyreek Hill will be the primary take-away option for the Pats. This should leave adequate room for Kelce and the subordinate WRs to run. Last week, the Patriots gave up their ninth and tenth TE scores of the year. Not to mention, that they allowed the octogenarian, Antonio Gates to catch five passes.
Gerald Everett, Rams @ NO ($2700 DK, $4400 FD)
The Saints allowed an average of only 3.5-39 to the position this season. That includes 88 combined yards given up to Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett in their earlier meeting. Between Weeks 14-16, Everett out-targeted Higbee20-4. In the two games since, Higbee has five targets and Everett has zero. Either of these guys might score, but neither is a sure thing. If I am forced to choose, I will go with the one that has been used more recently. That is Higbee. I am certainly not paying his salary at FD when I can get Ben Watson for just a couple hundred more or Rob Gronkowski for only $1.2K more.
Ben Watson, Saints vs. LAR ($2600 DK, $4800 FD)
The Rams allowed Ben Watson to post 3-62-1 against them back in Week 9. Since then, Watson hasn’t seen more than three targets in a game. Fortunately, only one team gave up more TE receiving yards this season than the Rams. This is Watson’s last season, and if the Saints lose, this would be his last game. I expect Drew Brees to go out of his way to get Watson a TD, just in case.