NFL Conference Championship DFS Picks, Advice, Sleepers
It's the final week for Daily Fantasy Football. All the sads. No more NFL DFS until August. Hold me.
Okay, while we will be crying ourselves to sleep Sunday night over the DFS season ending, hopefully we can blow our noses into a nice wad of cash.
Aaron Rodgers ($8100 DK/$9600 FD, 16.2% DK/16.0% FD) – Even with an interception against the Cowboys, no quarterback has been hotter than Rodgers since Week 11. With two touchdown passes in last week's game as well, Rodgers now has 24 in those nine games and just one interception. Rodgers is also averaging 304 passing yards per game during that span. There's a reason he's the most expensive quarterback, although, with the injury concerns to Jordy Nelson (likely out), Davante Adams (likely not practicing until Saturday) and Geronimo Allison missing practice on Wednesday, it's hard to justify paying up for him.
Matt Ryan ($7700/$9200, 15.4%/15.3%) – With Rodgers' run, many have overlooked Ryan's performance in the Falcons last five games. Ryan has 14 touchdowns, zero interceptions and 294 yards per game during those. As we all know, the Packers pass defense is among the league's worst, and they let Dak Prescott throw for 302 yards and three touchdowns last week. That's more than doable for Ryan, especially at home where he averaged 28.0 FPPG, 323 yards and 2.4 touchdowns.
Tom Brady ($7100/$8300, 14.2%/13.8%) – Speaking of touchdowns and interceptions, no one was better… eeeeeevvverrrr… than Brady this year.
The Texans did a good job of limiting Brady, but as good as the Steelers defense is playing, they don't have as many difference makers. It's Brady, it's Bill Belichick, it's in New England, it's the playoffs. If you're going to give me a discount on one of the best quarterbacks in history, sign me up.
Ben Roethlisberger ($5800/$8000, 11.6%/13.3%) – Roethlisberger doesn't make much sense at all given his home/road splits. If you aren't aware of them, well, let me know how uncomfortable it is living under a rock. If you want to go contrarian (please, don't… but it's your money) Big Ben only makes sense on DraftKings. Paying only $300 less than Brady on FanDuel is the definition of insanity.
Le'Veon Bell ($10300/$9500, 20.6%/15.8%) – Bell was nearly perfect this year, scoring fewer than 16.8 points just once with 70 total yards against the Ravens in Week 9. Nevertheless, Bell still scored 13.0 points in that game, and he had 24.9 against the Patriots in the first matchup with 10 receptions. You have to think that Belichick is going to do whatever it takes to stop Bell in the playoffs. Malcolm Butler can handle Antonio Brown, or at least contain him enough on his own to allow the defense to hone in on Bell. It's hard to fade Bell in cash, but in the championship week with limited options, Bell is going to make filling your tournament lineup a bit tough and flier reliant.
Devonta Freeman ($7200/$8000, 14.4%/13.3%) – The Packers run defense started the year hot, but it struggled after Week 7, and that started with the Falcons in Week 8 when Freeman scored 21.8. Tevin Coleman ($4800/$6300, 9.6%/10.5%) missed that game, but the Packers allowed 21 or more points to the opponent's top running back six times in nine games. It could have been more if not for facing the Eagles without Ryan Mathews and the Vikings pathetic backfield. Last week, Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 125 yards on 22 carries. It's always a risk with Freeman and Coleman sharing touches, but as mentioned last week, Coleman averages nearly 17 FPPG in Falcons wins, which makes me like him a bit more at the price.
Ty Montgomery ($5600/$6900, 11.2%/11.5%) – Montgomery found the end zone twice last week, and the Falcons allowed the fourth most FPPG to running backs this year. With the injuries to the Packers receivers, Montgomery could see more work than usual, but there is also the risk that the Packers offense finally fizzles out. I still like Montgomery in both formats, although a bit more in tournaments. Christine Michael ($3300/$5300, 6.6%/8.8%) has the chance for more work if Nelson and Adams both miss the game and is a tournament flier. The same goes for Aaron Ripkowski ($3000/$4500, 6.0%/8.2%), although he's more of a touchdown chase.
Dion Lewis ($5300/$7000, 10.6%/11.7%) – Last week was Lewis week, so this week is LeGarrette Blount ($4400/$6500, 8.8%/10.8%) week, right? It's Belichick folks. No one knows.
Matchup wise, the Steelers were much more susceptible to pass-catching running backs this year, but if road Roethlisberger shows up and the Steelers are down early, Blount could easily dominate the touches. One thing I've learned is that I should never attempt a prediction on the Patriots backfield. I felt Lewis was a good play last week, and if pressed, I like Blount this week… do NOT hold me to this though if it all goes to hell and James White goes off.
Antonio Brown ($8800/$8400, 17.6%/14.0%) – As mentioned above, Butler can contain Brown, although he won't stop him. Thanks to Mike Clay of ESPN, we know that Brown ran 68 routes for 20 targets, 14 catches, 193 yards and a touchdown in their last two matchups, or 19.7 FPPG if only facing Butler. Brown obviously won't see Butler the entire game, which gives him upside for more, but we can't forget that it's a road game. Brown is the most expensive receiver on DraftKings, which makes dropping down to Julio Jones sensible, whereas you can save a few hundred by using Brown on FanDuel.
Julio Jones ($8200/$8800, 16.4%/14.7%) – Jones should see LaDarius Gunter for most of the game, and he's been the Packers best corner while limiting several receivers, including Jones earlier this year. Jones is a riskier play than you might think with this information, something many might not realize given the overall weakness of the Packers secondary. I like Jones more in tournaments than cash games given the price, but let's not overrate Gunter and dismiss Jones' ability to dominate anyone.
Jordy Nelson ($7600/$8000, 15.2%/13.3%) – Nelson is likely out, and even if he makes a miraculous return, you can't risk him outside of tournaments given the potential for an early exit.
Julian Edelman ($7300/$7800, 14.6%/13.0%) – Edelman has dominated the Patriots receiving game since Week 11 and especially in their last two games. Since Week 11, Edelman is averaging 12.6 targets per game. That has resulted in nearly 19 FPPG for Edelman, and the gameplan shouldn't change against the Patriots. In fact, Edelman is my favorite high-priced receiver, even over Brown and Jones given the aforementioned risks associated with both.
Davante Adams ($6600/$7600, 13.2%/12.7%) – Adams would be a strong play if he plays against the Falcons. Even though Adams is a great option, Randall Cobb ($5900/$6500, 11.8%/10.8%) would actually be the better option with the Falcons allowing the second most FPPG to slot receivers this year. The issue, as mentioned with Rodgers, is that Adams could miss the game, which would hurt Cobb's stock quite a bit. Remember last year when the Packers tried to use Cobb as their No. 1 option and he saw less time in the slot? Added to all of this is that Geronimo Allison ($3800/$5400, 7.6%/9.0%) could have terrific value seeing time in the slot with Adams active, but he too is missing practice as of today. Next up is Jeff Janis ($3000/$4500, 6.0%/7.5%), who would become a very popular pick if Nelson and Adams both missed the game. Montgomery would make for a nice pivot pairing Michael with him, as the Packers could move Montgomery back to receiver and go more traditional in that situation.
Taylor Gabriel ($4900/$6000, 9.8%/10.0%) – Another thanks to Mike Clay for this stat, as the Packers have allowed the most Fantasy points to receivers lined up as the right side receiver this year. That's where Gabriel would line up most in Sunday's game, but make sure he's ready to go after missing Wednesday's practice. It's likely that the Falcons are just limiting his reps to ensure his availability, but if he were out, Mohamed Sanu ($4500/$5800, 9.0%/9.7%) and Aldrick Robinson ($3000/$4500, 6.0%/7.5%) would see upticks in values, especially with Robinson if the plan is to use him on the outside with Sanu still in the slot.
Jared Cook ($5100/$6400, 10.2%/10.7%) – Cook came up big last week, and he's the most expensive tight end by far. It's hard to find much value at the position with Martellus Bennett blocking as much as he does and now banged up (again). The Falcons allowed the seventh most FPPG to tight ends, and you have to expect a heavy share for Cook if Adams misses the game along with Nelson. Finding a way to use Cook makes a lot of sense despite his inconsistencies over his career. If Adams plays, it's easier to fade Cook.
Martellus Bennett ($3300/$5500, 6.6%/9.2%) – Bennett is a decent tournament option on DraftKings but not FanDuel. Obviously, if you roster Bennett, you're hoping for a touchdown. Rob Gronkowski was able to score against the Steelers in the first matchup, but the Steelers allowed just six tight end touchdowns all year, and as mentioned, Bennett blocks a lot and is hurt. If I'm digging for fliers, I will likely look to a min or near min priced option.
Others – Richard Rodgers ($2500/$4900, 5.0%/8.2%) becomes a highly intriguing play if Adams and Allison are both out, but his price is clearly more attractive on DraftKings. The Packers gave up 10 games of double-digit points to tight ends this year, and they let Jason Witten score 17.9 last week on six catches for 59 yards and a touchdown. It's likely that someone finds the end zone for the Falcons, and my bet is on Austin Hooper ($2500/$4500, 5.0%/7.5%) over Levine Toilolo ($2500/$4500, 5.0%/7.5%), as Hooper had six red zone targets (three receptions, two touchdowns) to Toilolo's one, which was incomplete.
Here's to our trying one more time to hit it big! Good luck!
Main Image: Scott Grau/Icon Sportswire
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