Four games separate the final eight NFL teams from reaching their conference championships. The stakes are high and the teams are the best that the NFL has to offer so finding value can be a challenge. We also get the opportunity to decide between some of the best players the league has to offer and this weekend is no different. Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer and Ben Roethlisberger will all take the field in the divisional round this weekend!

Chiefs @ Patriots

Point Total: 42.5
Spread: Patriots -5


DvP Ranks vs QB vs RB vs WR vs TE PPGA
Chiefs 4th 20th 2nd 1st 17.9
Patriots 15th 22nd 11th 5th 19.7

Neither of these teams are coming in fully healthy but momentum wise the Chiefs have a huge edge. Whereas earlier in the season the Patriots offense was the darling of the DFS community it’s been borderline pathetic lately. This game has the makings of a defensive struggle but beware a Patriots offensive resurgence.

QB/D

The Chiefs have some serious concerns on defense as their best two edge rushers Tamba Hali (thumb) and Justin Houston (knee) played last week but were limited. Houston pulled up lame a couple times and Hali only played 15 snaps. This may limit the overall effectiveness of the Chiefs against the Patriots and Tom Brady who won’t be the easy target that Brian Hoyer was last week and only threw 7 INTS all season. The Chiefs defense have been opportunistic as a unit lately but its hard to see them as a sure thing for another big game here. With the Patriots struggling offensively the Chiefs undoubtedly have some potential at but its far from a sure thing you’ll see anther huge score.

At QB, Tom Brady has gone four weeks now without breaking 20 fantasy points and also hasn’t thrown more than 35 times in any one of those games. Injuries have forced the Patriots to become more conservative and less pass-happy, although that might change this week with the return of Julian Edelman. When both Edelman and Rob Gronkowski are on the field Brady’s completion percentage and yards per attempt both go up significantly. For daily fantasy purposes Brady isn’t in a great spot here against a defense that hasn’t allowed a 300 yard passing game against them since week 4, but Edelman’s return means a rebound here is possible and he should certainly be considered as an option if making multiple lineups this weekend.

The Patriots defense is dealing with some banged up players too but it appears as if most of their key players will be OK for Saturday, although watch the news on Chandler Jones—their best pass rusher— who went through a bizarre medical emergency on the weekend. The issue with using the Pats defense in DFS this week is that they’re going up against a QB and offense who don’t turn the ball over much, and have been pretty effective at moving the ball. Alex Smith doesn’t throw much—25 times or less in his last 4 games—but he can run and has averaged over 30 yards rushing per game in 2015-16. Smith is the cheapest QB on the slate and with the Chiefs being five point dogs there is a little more upside with Smith than usual in this spot. As the starting QB with the cheapest price tag on DK this week ($5400) he’s definitely a value play, but one who’s potential upside is marred by the fact he is facing a tough pass rush and will likely be without his best WR.

RB

The Patriots will likely be using a rotation of Stephen Jackson, Brandon Boldin and James White at RB this week. The newly signed Jackson looked better in his second game with the Patriots in week 17 and is likely the favorite to lead this group in snaps. Still, he’ll have a tough matchup with the Chiefs who have done well at limiting opposing RBs all year and rank second in the league in fantasy points allowed to the position. The Patriots have tended to throw more against better run defenses, and while the Chiefs pass rush is a concern passing back James White could have a bigger role in this game to relieve some of that pressure and might be my favorite target from this group of RBs this week. Snap wise White has only been out on 35-40% or so of the plays in recent weeks but he’s been highly effective when on the field and converted 14 of 17 targets in the last three weeks into catches (along with 2 TDs). I think he’s the probably the highest upside play of any of the Patriots backs, although I do expect Steven Jackson to be given a crack at establishing a ground presence early and think he could be a decent play from a pure volume perspective at only $3300.

For the Chiefs it was clear that Andy Reid understands who his best back is right now. Spencer Ware out-snapped Charcandrick West last week 38-18 and outplayed him as well compiling a 4.2 ypc average on 16 carries versus West’s 3.3 ypc on 8 carries. The matchup this week admittedly isn’t great as the Pats run D has been solid all season and only given up 7 TDs all year on the ground (5th best in the league). Still, I’d expect Andy Reid to ride Ware as much as possible in this game and think he makes for an interesting tournament play as many DFS players will be scared off him due to this matchup and the game line. At $4500 he presents interesting value.

WR/TE

Here’s the passing targets from the Patriots last two weeks of play:


Player Week 16 Week 17
Rob Gronkowski 5 7
Keshawn Martin 12 5
Danny Amendola NA 4
Brandon LaFell 1 4

The big news for the Patriots this week is that they’ll be getting back Julian Edelman, which is a huge boon for their offense. Tom Brady’s pass numbers have suffered dramatically with him out and it’s also effected Rob Gronkowski, who hasn’t recorded more than 5 catches or 90 yards receiving in a game since he went down either. While the risk of re-injury still exists with Edelman he was described as going “full throttle” this week in practice. Kansas City has struggled at times against elite slot receivers this season, and Randall Cobb and Emmanuel Sanders put up 5 TDs between them early in the year in spate games. Edelman could feast in this game and has big game upside if he avoids re-injury… Even if Edelman doesn’t have a massive game his presence alone will help Rob Gronkowski. Many people may be scared off of Gronkowski due to the Chiefs being the best in the league at limiting fantasy points to the TE but Gronk’s skillset makes that stat less meaningful in my view this week, as does the return of Edelman. Before Edelman went down this year Gronkowski had put up five 100 yard receiving games and 8 TDs (in 9 games). Even in a tough matchup he’ll have every chance of being the top play at TE this week and think he’ll be lower owned than he should be… While the fantasy prospects seem less bright for Danny Amendola in this game, don’t be shocked if he benefits from Edelman’s presence as well as I expect KC will tilt their coverage at times to attempt to contain Edelman. At $5500 his price will scare off many but makes him an interesting boom or bust fantasy play, he’d be the other player I’d consider from this passing game.

Here’s the passing targets from the Chiefs last two weeks of play:


Player Week 17 Week 18
Jeremy Maclin 5 5
Travis Kelce 2 10
Albert Wilson 4 4
Chris Conley 3 1

The Chiefs don’t throw much but the injury to Jeremy Maclin will certainly open up a lot of targets for the remaining receivers if he doesn’t play. TE Travis Kelce had one of his best games of the year last week and should again receive close to if not more than 10 targets in this game—assuming no Maclin. The Patriots did give up the second fewest yards and third fewest receptions to TE’s this year however and may force Alex Smith to beat them with his legs or with his less experienced outside receivers. Kelce definitely has potential from a volume perspective but the Patriots defense caps his upside a bit… With Maclin looking very questionable I would expect WR Albert Wilson to be the logical candidate to receive a lot of the quick screens and outs in this game that often went to Maclin. Wilson is a shifty slot receiver who can make some hay after the catch and had a nice rookie season last year but lost time and targets to Maclin in 2015. From a pure necessity stand point he might receive 8+ targets and could be a nice ppr play… Metrics and combine superstars Chris Conley has all kinds of physical talent and should see a bump in snaps too—if no Maclin. Given his lack of playing time it’s tough to know what kind of usage he’ll get or how he’ll perform in such a pressure filled game. Still, his size and speed make him an excellent red zone target and deep threat and a big game here is not out of the question. Watch the news on Maclin as his absence would benefit Conley greatly.

Gameflow: Many question marks surround the Patriots in this game but injury clouds are starting form around Kansas City right now too. Both of their best pass rushers are banged up and they will likely be without their best WR (or have him limited at best). Meanwhile New England gets their best weapon back on offense and should have most of their defensive starters rested and healthy. This matchup looks close but I’ll take the better coach, the healthier team and the GOAT at QB to take down this playoff game.

Patriots 24 Chiefs 20

Primary Targets:

  • Julian Edelman $7100
  • James White $5100
  • Rob Gronkowski $7500

Secondary Targets:

  • Danny Amendola $5500
  • Spencer Ware $4500
  • Steven Jackson $3300
  • Albert Wilson $3800
  • Travis Kelce $5100
  • Tom Brady $7400


From DKTV: NFL Game Breakdown


Packers @ Cardinals

Point Total: 50
Spread: Cardinals -7


DvP Ranks vs QB vs RB vs WR vs TE PPGA
Packers 10th 8th 15th 22nd 20.2
Cardinals 12th 7th 9th 19th 19.6

This game has the highest point total of the week. It was less than 3 weeks ago that the Cardinals absolutely demolished the Packers. However, after seeing the Cards get waxed by the Seahawks in their last game and then seeing Green Bay perform well last week, this game looks like it might be a bit closer this time around.

QB/D

The Cardinals defense put up a monster fantasy game the last time these two teams met and the injuries to the Green Bay offensive line may mean the Cards are once again in a spot to erupt. Green Bay definitely rebounded versus the weaker defense of the Redskins last week but still have O-line injuries that they are dealing with, specifically to T David Bakhtiari and G TJ Lang. The Packers did employ a more up-tempo, quick strike offense last week and I expect them to employ the same strategy this week to help keep the pressure off Aaron Rodgers. That could mean a big day passing for Rodgers who hit his stride in the second half last week after a slow start. I like Rodgers in this game and expect him and the Packers could really pile on the passing yards late, but also think the Cardinals are in a good spot to produce some turnovers. Both are options this week, although the fast pace of play might make it more conducive for the offenses of both teams to produce for fantasy.

From a fantasy perspective Carson Palmer finished the season in poor fashion, compiling less than 18 points in each of his last 3 games, although most of that can be attributed to game flow and not bad play. The knock on Palmer this week will certainly be whether or not he throws enough to be viable for a big game. Since David Johnson took over his pass attempts have gone down significantly and have decreased every game since week 14. Still, with this being the playoffs I cans see Arizona refusing to take their foot off the gas at any point and think Palmer has pretty high upside in this game, even if it ends up being an Arizona route. Palmer’s perhaps the safest option at QB on this slate and I expect him to be popular for that reason.

RB

David Johnson is the unquestioned starter in Arizona and should see a ton of work in this game. By now everyone should know of Johnson’s explosiveness and his ability in the pass game so the only thing to consider here is the matchup and his usage. While I’d hesitate to label Green Bay’s run defense as soft it did give up some big games to elite RBs this year, particularly on the road where they allowed three separate 100-yard rushing games in 2015. Even with Andre Ellington back in the fold I’d expect Johnson to see no less than 65-70% of the work this week and think he is unquestionably the number one option at this position for the slate, expect him to be very, very highly owned though.

At RB for Green Bay last week both Eddie Lacy and James Starks saw significant work with Starks out snapping Lacy 33-27. While both men found the end zone Starks work in the passing game is what ultimately made him the higher scoring back for fantasy and I’d expect that trend to continue this week. The Cardinals have one of the better run D’s in the entire league and have only allowed two backs to gain more than 100 yards versus them on the ground. With Green Bay likely to be trailing at some point, I’d expect Starks to be a nice source of ppr points and think he makes for the higher upside play in this matchup. Lacy’s lack of receiving ability makes him pretty a precarious play.

WR/TE

Here’s the passing targets for the Packers the last two weeks:


Player Week 17 Week 18
James Jones 14 11
Richard Rodgers 9 4
Randall Cobb 8 8
Davante Adams 6 4

Expect the Cards best corner Patrick Peterson to spend time covering James Jones and Randall Cobb, with a strong likelihood that he ends up following the dynamic Cobb more. While Cobb had a decent game last week he still only converted 3 of his 8 targets into catches. This conversion rate is troubling but the fact that Green Bay gave him five carries speaks volumes about how they view him as a player. I expect Cobb to touch the ball a significant number of times in this game as Green Bay will likely unearth every trick play to try and move the ball versus this solid defense. He should be low owned due to the matchup and makes for a boom or bust tournament play as a result… James Jones may not be the flashiest player but he keeps leading the Packers receivers in targets, receiving yardage and fantasy points every week. With Cobb likely keeping Peterson busy he’ll again be counted on by Aaron Rodgers for big plays and makes for a great value target at only $4600… With Davante Adams looking unlikely to play don’t be shocked if this results in a spike of targets for TE Richard Rodgers. While WR Jared Abbrederis should pick up a lot of Adams snaps, Rodgers is the one his QB trusts and the one who has made plays for him in the past, including catching Hail Mary’s at the end of games. Rodgers is nothing special athletically but he’s got great hands and could be a fantasy X-factor in this game, don’t be shocked if he ends up leading Green Bay in targets or catches.

Here’s the passing targets for the Cardinals the last two weeks:


Player Week 16 Week 17
Larry Fitzgerald 6 7
Michael Floyd 8 4
John Brown 4 9
David Johnson 5 8

With so many elite receivers in play for Arizona and such a dynamic offense that can strike in a variety of way, choosing which Cardinal receiver to roster this week will be crucial for fantasy. As much as I love the way Michael Floyd has played this year the Packers top corner Sam Shields looks likely to return this week (practiced Wed.) and would in all likelihood spend much of his time covering Floyd on the outside. This matchup would not only leave Larry Fitzgerald more room to operate underneath but also give the speedy John Brown a better matchup against the less effective Damarious Randall. While Floyd had a nice game versus Green Bay in week 16 Shields was not present for that game and could be a big difference maker if he takes the field this week. Given Floyd’s matchup I would not be shocked if Carson Palmer made better use of trusted veteran Larry Fitzgerald in this game, who operates a lot like TE these days for the Cards. Given his role and where he runs his routes Fitzgerald who could flourish this week versus a Packers team who really struggled covering more elite TE’s like Antonio Gates, Jordan Reed and Kyle Rudolph on underneath routes this season. I like Fitzgerald to receive a few more targets than usual and view him as a safer option than Brown or Floyd, who I view as more boom or bust DFS plays this week, although all three of these WRs can be considered for play.

Gameflow: I thought Green Bay rose to the challenge nicely last week but the difference in competition they face this week is quite severe. Pasting the paltry Washington defense did not convince me that Green Bay was “back” so to speak and I think they’ll again have trouble moving the ball versus Arizona’s opportunistic defense. While I respect the way Green Bay’s defense has played holding back all of Carson Palmer, David Johnson and the Cards receivers from a big day seems like a herculean task and a bridge too far for the Packers. I like Arizona to win fairly handily.

Cardinals 29 Packers 23

Primary Targets:

  • David Johnson $6000
  • Larry Fitzgerald $6500
  • Richard Rodgers $4000 (if no Adams)
  • Carson Palmer $6500
  • James Jones $4600

Secondary Targets:

  • John Brown $5200
  • Michael Floyd $5100
  • James Starks $4000
  • Aaron Rodgers $6700 (don’t play with Cards D)
  • Cards D $3800 (don’t play with Rodgers)


Seahawks @ Panthers

Point Total: 44
Spread: Panthers -3


DvP Ranks vs QB vs RB vs WR vs TE PPGA
Seahawks 2nd 3rd 1st 21st 17.3
Panthers 7th 10th 20th 13th 19.3

This game has the second highest point total of the slate (thus far) and features two teams with elite, dual threat Quarterbacks. While the defenses in this game are two of the best in the business don’t be shocked if the talent on both offenses produce and turn this into more of a shootout than a defensive struggle.

QB/D

Cam Newton was tremendous all season but did struggle a bit in his meeting with the Hawks defense earlier this season when he was picked twice and only threw for one TD. Newton also scored with his legs in that meeting though and I don’t expect the Panthers to hold Newton back one iota in this game— this will arguably be the teams best chance to get to the Super Bowl with Cam as their QB. Still, I can’t help but think the Hawks defense is going to cause problems for Newton come Sunday. In five career games versus Seattle Cam only has 4 passing TDs (versus 5 INTs) and has thrown for under 200 yards in three of those games. Newton is playing the best ball of his career but still struggles occasionally with accuracy and decision making, two factors which could get him into trouble against an opportunistic defense. Given his likely popularity and past struggles against the Hawks, Newton makes for an interesting tournament fade and the Hawks make for an intriguing play on defense as well.

On the flip side Carolina’s D struggled a bit at the end of the season before righting themselves week 17 with a nice week versus Tampa where they only allowed 10 points. I anticipate the Panthers being a popular target this weekend due to the fact the Seahawks are coming off a poor offensive performance and will be on the road. Still, I would be hesitant about playing any defense against Russell Wilson right now. Wilson has just two INTs in his last eight games versus an incredible 25 TDs, and that is before we tack on extra points for his rushing ability. This isn’t a player I’d want my defense to be going up against this coming weekend and think many people might be over reaching with the Panthers as a defensive play in this spot. Wilson should be in a great spot to rebound here and would be one of my favorite choices at QB on this slate.

RB

You have to play the waiting again with Marshawn Lynch, who skipped last week but returned to a full practice this Wednesday. Lynch looks and sounds healthy but you won’t know for sure until Friday. If he does play you can cross Christine Michael off your list as I would expect Lynch to get a pretty big workload. The Panthers RB defense might be the weakest portion of their entire D- unit, and have especially struggled defending them in the passing game where RBs compiled the second most receptions against them in the league. I am a fan of both Seattle RBs in this matchup, but would only feel comfortable with Lynch if I knew he was playing (obviously) and knew there was a high chance he’d see most of the work. Michael on the other hand played on 67% of the snaps last week and would benefit greatly from Lynch’s absence. Watch the injury news late this week and target the appropriate back here depending on how it plays out.

For the Panthers the situation this week is very simple. Jonathan Stewart is returning and should receive a full workload. Stewart is one of the highest volume and consistent RBs in the league for fantasy, and took over 20 carries in 8 straight games before leaving with injury in week 14 versus ATL. The issue with Stewart this week isn’t rustiness or workload it’s matchup. Seattle’s run defense is fantastic and were at their best last weekend limiting Adrian Peterson to a measly 45 yards on 23 carries. Stewart’s volume is enticing but he might be a great tournament fade this week against a Hawks team who faced 6 RBs who took 20 or more carries against them and held each one to under 100 yards rushing.

WR/TE

Here’s the passing targets from the Panthers last two games:


Player Week 16 Week 17
Ted Ginn 3 NA
Greg Olsen 6 3
Devin Funchess 1 8
Corey Brown 6 6

One area of concern for the Hawks defense in this game will be at TE, a position they have not covered well all season. Last week the Hawks allowed Kyle Rudolph to burn them late—when it really mattered—and also allowed Greg Olsen to dissect them for 131 yards and a TD in week 6. Kam Chancellor has looked sketchy all year in coverage to me and I think Olsen has a great shot at being one of the highest scoring TEs at his position this week. He’s a main target for me in this game… At WR you have to respect the tightening up Seattle has done in covering that position of late. After getting burned for a couple big games mid-season the Hawks haven’t allowed a 100-yard receiver since week 13 and have also only allowed two TDs to WRs in that same span. That being said I still think Ted Ginn could “get loose” in this game for one of his patented big plays, especially since it’s not a certainty he’ll be shadowed by Richard Sherman. Ginn looks likely to return to action after missing week 17 and will likely also serve as the Panthers kick returner which makes him an interesting correlation play if you are planning to use him with the Panthers defense.

Here’s the passing targets from the Seahawks last two games:


Player Week 17 Week 18
Doug Baldwin 8 7
Tyler Lockett 5 5
Jermaine Kearse 3 4

The Seattle receivers pose an interesting matchup for the Panthers on defense. With Peanut Tillman out coverage ace Josh Norman will likely remain on the outside for this game, leaving Doug Baldwin to roam somewhat free when in the slot. If this occurs, and Baldwin ends up seeing more of the completely burnable Cortland Finnegan than Norman, then Baldwin could have a field day in this game. The Hawks have been geniuses at creating ways for the shifty Baldwin to get open in the red zone and I think regardless of who covers him he makes for a top play at WR this week, he’s playing the position as well as anyone in the game right now… As for the other two Seahawk receivers, I’ve already mentioned that Tyler Lockett could benefit greatly if the Panthers chose to switch Norman to Baldwin and think he makes for fantastic tournament option. All it takes is one opening and Lockett can put up 10+ fantasy points, I think he’ll get his chances this week against a somewhat overrated Panthers secondary.

Gameflow: Maybe it’s the West Coaster in me talking but I see upset here and think the Hawks have a great shot at winning this game. Many will be scared off the offenses bad performance last week but extreme cold really did play a part and I think Seattle may use last weeks good fortune as a wake up call for Carolina. Cam Newton has played great in 2015 and will probably be the MVP this year (and deserves it) but he meets his equal and perhaps superior in every regard this week in Russell Wilson. I like the Hawks to win again here.

Seahawks 27 Panthers 24

Primary Targets:

  • Russell Wilson $6800
  • Doug Baldwin $6800
  • Greg Olsen $6900
  • Christine Michael $4600 (if no Lynch)

Secondary Targets:

  • Tyler Lockett $4400
  • Seahawks D $4100
  • Marshawn Lynch $6500 (if he plays)
  • Cam Newton $7500
  • Ted Ginn $5000


Steelers @ Broncos

Point Total: NA
Spread: Broncos -6.5


DvP Ranks vs QB vs RB vs WR vs TE PPGA
Steelers 19th 31st 3rd 23rd 19.9
Broncos 1st 2nd 14th 20th 18.5

This game has a ton of intrigue due to injuries and personnel choices. While the early line opened at Broncos -6.5 expect that number to possibly change dramatically depending on how certain injuries play out during the week.

QB/D

The Steelers squeaked by the Bengals last weekend but will likely be without two of their best offensive players in this game and will have a very banged up Ben Roethlisberger at QB. Roethlisberger is suffering from torn ligaments in his throwing shoulder but all indications are he will rest all week and then play this Sunday. The Broncos defense will be looking for revenge in this game after a healthy Ben torched them for 380 yards and three TDs in week 15 and you have to think they make for a fairly safe play given the state of injuries the Steelers have. Roethlisberger does have a good record of playing well when injured and even put up 379 yards and 3 TDs earlier this season versus the Browns when he was only active as the “emergency” QB. Still, the safe play this week is undoubtedly to avoid Big Ben and many of the Steelers as a more conservative game plan could be in the cards for Pittsburgh.

As for Denver, for better or worse they will be starting Peyton Manning at Quarterback this week. Manning took over week 17 after Brock Osweiler started slow and did OK completing 5-9 passes for 69 yards, and more importantly, no turnovers. The matchup here looks good for Manning but the reality is he probably doesn’t have the ability to take advantage of a weak secondary any more and I’d be more tempted to use the Steelers defense as a play, as they’ve put up double digit fantasy points in back to back games and ranked third as a team in sacks this year. I really like them as a tournament play this week and think they could be the key to a Steeler’s victory.

RB

You can expect the Broncos to rely a ton on the running game in this matchup, or to at least try to. Ronnie Hillman and CJ Anderson should both see enough work to be viable fantasy plays (and have been splitting work most weeks) but have a poor matchup against the highly ranked Steelers run D. Pittsburgh allowed the second fewest rushing TDs to RBs during the regular season and did well limiting Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard in their matchup last week. With Hillman slightly more involved in the passing game he might be my choice if targeting this duo but in general I think both the time share and matchup make this a hard spot to predict spot—both players have over 20 red zone touches and played on over 45% of the offensive snaps for the year. I’d reserve both for larger tournaments only this weekend and probably just avoid both if given the choice.

At RB for the Steelers Fitzgerald Toussaint had a nice game last week, although he did most of his damage fantasy wise in the passing game. With DeAngelo Williams looking very doubtful at the moment to play in this weeks game (keep an eye on the injury report) Toussaint once again looks like a nice value play at $4200 as he should see a majority of the work once again. Denver does have a decent run defense but also allowed the 7th most receptions to RBs in the league during the regular season. He might not have huge upside but should see a lot of targets given how limited his QB will be in the pass game.

WR/TE

Here’s the passing targets from the Broncos last two weeks of play:


Player Week 16 Week 17
Demaryius Thomas 12 9
Emmanuel Sanders 4 8
Owen Daniels 7 1

While I’m not super bullish on Peyton Manning at QB there is still potential for one or both of Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas to have a big day here. Both are fantastic after the catch and should have room to operate against the Steelers lackluster coverage group. The Steelers allowed the most yards to WRs all year, a stat which included nine 100 yard games against them over the course of the regular season. Emmanuel Sanders had a field day versus this team in week 15, but with Peyton Manning back at QB its hard to say if he’ll be equally as effective this week. Sanders will likely see a lot of Antwon Blake in coverage who struggled a lot this year and boosts Sanders upside somewhat in this matchup. Thomas could also benefit from Manning’s return however as he often struggled with timing and drops when Brock Osweiler was in. Both men are intriguing plays in this game which might feature the lowest ownership of the slate.

Here’s the passing targets from the Steelers last two weeks of play:


Player Week 17 Week 18
Antonio Brown 16 12
Martavis Bryant 2 6
Markus Wheaton 5 5
Heath Miller 4 3

Update: Antonio Brown has been downgraded to OUT this weekend.
IMPLICATIONS: Brown’s injury should open up around 15 targets in this Steelers offense which will be spread out across Markus Wheaton, Martavis Bryant, Heath Miller and even RB Fitzgerald Toussaint.

You’ll have to monitor the injury news on Antonio Brown right until kickoff which will be difficult for fantasy purposes since this is the last game of the slate and you’ll have limited choices for late swap if he doesn’t play. If Brown is active I think playing him could be an excellent choice as his ownership promises to be incredibly low and his upside, even with a semi-crippled QB, is still quite high given that the Steelers will need to rely on his after the catch wizardry even more than usual. The Broncos secondary is still one of the best in the league but did allow 6 TDs to the WR over the last 4 games, suggesting the season long grind may have effected their domination a bit. I like Brown, a lot, if he plays but make sure you have a back-up option for when he doesn’t… If Brown doesn’t go expect Martavis Bryant to see double digit targets and possibly some work as a runner as well. Bryant rebounded nicely last week with a miracle catch in the end zone and a fantastic 44-yard end around he nearly took for a second score. Bryant would see tighter coverage if Brown sits but he’s capable of beating it and would be a logical late swap if Brown sits last minute. I also like him as a tournament option if Brown does play as he should benefit from Brown being the prime focus of the Denver coverage… While I’m not in love with either Heath Miller or Markus Wheaton—especially against this athletic group of defenders—both would see an increase in usage if Brown sat and Miller particularly could see a ton of targets in the short pass game. I might also look to Miller as a cheap late swap option if Brown can’t go as he could pay off through ppr points alone.

Gameflow: The Steelers come into this game without so many of their top players its really hard to see how they could ever pull this out. That being said, they have good depth at WR and a QB who is used to playing through pain. I also really question whether Denver will be able to move the ball on the ground and whether Peyton Manning can lead the Broncos to a win with his arm. I think Pittsburgh’s front line has a big say in this game against the weak Broncos O-line and I think its helps Pittsburgh to the huge upset.

Steelers 23 Broncos 20

Primary Targets:

  • Fitzgerald Toussaint $4200
  • Steelers D $3600

Secondary Targets:

  • Demaryius Thomas $7000
  • Emmanuel Sanders $5800
  • Ronnie Hillman $4100
  • Denver D $3900
  • Martavis Bryant $6000
  • Heath Miller $3200