Exhales all around. Turning of the pages has commenced. Championships have been won or lost (hopefully won). So, we find ourselves on the precipice of the playoffs…it’s a whole new year, baby!
We did our best to find the sneakiest of plays throughout the 2015 season with some wins and losses along the way. Playoffs are a time to have some fun with it – playoff Fantasy leagues, playoff pools and Daily Fantasy are going to carry us through the month of January. So, despite a limited pool of players, we are going to dive deeper than the favorite players each week and see where we can grab some underrated value. Here we go, it’s the Sneaky Plays for Wild Card Weekend!
Alex Smith vs. Texans – The Texans have been the second-ranked defense in the NFL for the better part of two months (behind only the Chiefs) so their year-end defensive rankings do not tell the tale of how good they have been during that more recent span. However, Alex Smith has accounted for nearly 4,000 yards of offense while tallying 22 total touchdowns and only seven interceptions on the season. In his brief playoff history of three games, he has risen to the occasion, throwing nine touchdowns and zero picks (!). The Texans will create pressure via J.J Watt per usual, but Smith’s underrated athleticism and ability to utilize Charcandrick West in the screen game (where the Texans ranked 18th defending opposing backs) should create some better than expected numbers in this contest.
Honorable mentions in QB category: A.J. McCarron vs. Steelers
Alfred Morris vs. Packers – In a game that has everyone including the odds-makers scratching their heads, Alfred Morris will go under the radar due to the number of marquee Fantasy football names in front of him – Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins (yes, really), Jordan Reed, Randall Cobb and the list continues. However, Morris’ running mate, Matt Jones, is likely to remain sidelined for Sunday’s matchup, and Morris has totaled 61 carries over the last four games. With an expected total of 45 points (and we expect higher), Morris is going to have the chance at some red zone touches as Washington moves the ball on Green Bay. With the Packers having ceded 13 rushing touchdowns and ranking 21st in the league in rushing yards allowed, we just need QB Kirk Cousins to stay clear of poaching TDs to make this a paydirt-level selection.
Honorable mentions in RB category: James Starks vs. Washington
Tyler Lockett vs. Vikings – The anticipated sub-zero temperatures in Minneapolis has caused many to back away from the potential for offensive output in Sunday’s contest. But Marshawn Lynch was declared out and that puts the focus back onto Russell Wilson and the passing game. Lockett saw 35 opportunities (targets plus carries) over the last five games making the rookie a focus in the offense unlike those first 11 outings. Minnesota managed to rank 25th in defensive efficiency against opposing WR2s, putting Lockett in a better matchup than wideout partner Doug Baldwin. So, given Wilson’s ability to create outside the pocket and Lockett’s growth over the last five weeks, we are surprised that he doesn’t rate higher across many Fantasy rankings. You can ‘Lock-it’ in for a Sneaky Play! (That was terrible, I know).
Honorable mentions in WR category: Marvin Jones vs. Steelers, DaVante Adams vs. Washington, James Jones vs. Washington
Richard Rodgers vs. Washington – It has been difficult to get Rodgers consistent targets this season, but he has tallied three touchdown receptions over the last five weeks. Washington’s winning ways have caused some to gloss over the following defensive statistics: 25th in passing yards allowed, 30 passing touchdowns allowed (ranks 23rd) and 6.8 net yards per attempt allowed (ranks 26th) – they have simply struggled to cover teams. Specifically, against opposing tight ends they rank 21st in defensive efficiency and have allowed 84 receptions and 953 yards on the season. At roughly eight targets and 59 yards per game allowed, we can expect Rodgers to be more active in this contest than he has been in some recent weeks.
Honorable mentions in TE category: Kyle Rudolph vs. Seahawks (rank 26th against opposing Fantasy tight ends)