With the AFC Championship and NFC Championship this weekend, we have another great Sunday of football lined up. The top two teams in each conference won last week setting up a pair of tasty games that are both rematches of games played earlier this season. The Rams visit the Saints in the first game of the afternoon followed by the Patriots playing in their eighth straight AFC Championship as they take on the Chiefs.
Since it’s such a limited slate, many players switch formats and go with DraftKings’ single-game Showdown option instead of the typical format. As a result, for this week’s value picks, I’ll focus on the players who can bring good production at affordable rates in those contests. All of my picks for this weekend’s games are available for under $8,000 as a flex pick and all salaries are flex prices. These players also will allow you to stock your flex plays with lots of bigger salaries if you believe in them enough to make them your Captain’s Pick.
NFC Championship: Rams vs. SaintsWR Brandin Cooks, LAR at NO, $7,400 – Cooks will return to the Superdome two years after being traded away from the Saints. He finished the regular season with a career-high 1,204 yards on 80 catches. He had over 100 yards in five games this season and had at least six targets in nine of his past 10 contests. He caught 4-of-6 targets for 65 yards against the Cowboys last week and has double-digit DKFP in nine of his past 11 contests.
When the Rams visited the Saints in Week 9, Cooks totaled an impressive 26.4 DKFP by catching 6-of-8 targets for 114 yards and a touchdown. He has enough big-play potential to take any catch the distance and should get some extra motivation in a possible revenge game this week.
WR Ted Ginn Jr., NO vs. LAR, $5,800 – Ginn was one of the options the Saints brought in for 2017 to replace Cooks after they traded him to the Patriots. Ginn was limited to just five games this season with a lengthy stay on the IR due to a knee injury. He returned in Week 16 and jumped right back into a high-utilization role. He has totaled 15 targets in his two games back and caught three passes for 44 yards last week against the Eagles.
Since the Rams will focus their attention on Michael Thomas ($11,400), Ginn should find room to operate, and it’s worth noting that last week it was the Cowboys’ second WR Michael Gallup, who went off against the Rams while Los Angeles focused on shutting down Amari Cooper.
QB Taysom Hill, NO vs. LAR, $1,800 – If you make the strategic choice to go ultra-cheap at one of your spots, Hill offers more upside than any other player under $2K. He is involved in many of New Orleans’ gadget plays and connected for a touchdown last week with Alvin Kamara ($9,400). However, the play was negated by penalty, so Hill finished with a quiet 0.8 DKFP.
He was involved as a rusher, receiver and QB, though, and coach Sean Payton will likely have a few plays drawn up for him against the Rams. If they hit, Hill has a high ceiling, but his limited role does make him boom-or-bust.
AFC Championship: Chiefs vs. PatriotsRB James White, NE at KC, $7,200 – White is a proven playoff contributor and added to his impressive postseason numbers last week by compiling 24.7 DKFP despite not getting a single carry. White was heavily involved as a receiver out of the backfield and caught 15-of-17 targets for 97 yards. He didn’t even get into the end zone and still managed a monster total.
White will continue to share time with Sony Michel ($7,400) and Rex Burkhead ($3,000), but his reliable role as the primary passing-down back makes him the best fantasy option of the bunch. He had 14.2 DKFP against the Chiefs earlier in the season and at least 13 DKFP in 13 of 17 games this season. He’s a very solid play since he’s not dependent on touchdowns and can fill up the stat sheet with receptions.
WR Sammy Watkins, KC vs. NE, $5,400 – After playing just one game since Week 9, Watkins showed no signs of rust as he returned from a foot injury and produced 11.0 DKFP against the Colts He was targeted eight times, behind only superstars Tyreek Hill ($10,400) and Travis Kelce ($10,000) and caught six passes for 62 yards.
The Chiefs were focused on getting Watkins back in the mix last week, and he’ll get a good matchup against a Patriots’ secondary that has been inconsistent at times this season, especially on the road. Watkins was quiet against New England earlier this season but is a great value option at this price if he stays as involved as he was last week.
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE at KC, $3,400 – A feature of the single-game Showdown absent from the standard format is the inclusion of kickers. While fantasy kickers get a bad rap, they can actually be a great source of value if you need to go cheap at a flex spot.
Gostkowski had a massive 22.0 DKFP when the Chiefs and Patriots met earlier this season and 8.0 DKFP in 11 of 17 games this season. Compared to the other options in the price range, kickers can bring more upside and also lower risk, since they’re almost surely going to give you something, especially in games that should feature as many points as expected in the two Championship games. Gostkowski is my favorite of the four, but any of the four kickers can be solid selections and help you spend up to get the players you want at other spots on your roster.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Z.Thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.