These next two weekends are what I consider to be the best football that is played of the entire year – every year. The remaining eight teams may be flawed in various ways but all of them earned it to get this far, racking up wins and beating good teams at some point along the way to get into these positions.
As we get deeper into the playoffs, players get increasingly less ‘sneaky’ but we will take a look at some of the players that are not ranked towards the top at each position and extract some additional value out of them…or try to do so. Last week, Alex Smith helped us out some, but we got very little out of Alfred Morris, Richard Rodgers and Tyler Lockett. So, here we go, it’s the final edition of Sneaky Plays for the season. Thanks for reading and let’s get it done!
Peyton Manning vs. Steelers – Every concern that Fantasy players could have about Manning is legitimate, from the lackluster stats during the regular season to the injuries that have dogged him all year. However, just a few weeks ago the Broncos’ passing offense, led by Brock Osweiler, put up 296 passing yards and three scores on this Steelers defense. The Steelers have struggled to cover teams at the wideout positions all season, (ranking 27th against opposing WR1s and 23rd against WR2s) and Emmanuel Sanders gave us ample evidence by scorching Antwon Blake for 10 catches, 181 yards and a score on 16 targets. With Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger banged up and WR Antonio Brown and RB DeAngelo Williams out, it would be imperative for the Steelers to still be able to move the ball effectively for Manning to be a good selection. Manning doesn’t have to be impressive, just active, and the Steelers protecting Big Ben will create a higher-scoring affair.
Spencer Ware vs. Patriots – Ware’s rib injury was tracked by many this week, especially after he doubled the number of carries (16 to 8) of backfield mate Charcandrick West in last week’s blowout of the Texans. West saw 16 touches in the previous week’s contest against Oakland as well and he averaged nearly 4.5 yards per carry over those two game with two scores; plus, he has a very healthy 5.6 yards per carry on the season. While the Pats were in the Top 10 against opposing Fantasy backs for the season, the Chiefs will use their rushing attack to keep the Pats’ offense and Tom Brady off the field. His goal line touches make Ware a more attractive option than West and may put him in a better position than some other backs that are sharing the rock this weekend like C.J. Anderson, Ronnie Hillman and Fitzgerald Toussaint.
John Brown vs. Packers – While teammate Michael Floyd has been a popular selection this week due to his six-catch, 111-yard performance against the Pack three weeks ago, we think Brown could be the one to expose the ailing Green Bay secondary. Brown tallied three grabs on four targets for 25 yards and a touchdown against this same defense three weeks ago, but he will likely see even more targets unless we have a repeat blowout on Saturday night. The Packers ranked 19th against opposing WR3s (where Brown is officially listed while Floyd is healthy) and will be challenged to try to keep up with the speedy Brown all night. Brown tends to be a popular player in DFS strategy because of his explosive ability in the downfield passing game, so we will utilize him as an option in various formats.
Heath Miller vs. Broncos – The tight end position is thin on options, so if you’re not using Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce or Greg Olsen in all formats, then you are just getting cute. Steelers’ tight end Heath Miller is likely to see a greater share of targets with Antonio Brown sidelined, but he was held to three catches on five targets for 12 yards in the previous meeting. The Broncos ranked 12th against opposing Fantasy tight ends this season, but even those stats were skewed, as Gronk, Kelce and Gary Barnidge were the only tight ends to expose them in any way. Miller is the only realistic play based on an increase in targets and even that does not engender a lot of confidence.