Chiefs @ Texans

Point Total: 40
Spread: Chiefs -3


DvP Rank QB WR RB TE PPG Allowed
Chiefs 9th 23rd 4th 2nd 17.9
Texans 4th 7th 6th 10th 19.6

These two teams played in week one of the NFL season with the Chiefs cruising to a mostly easy 27-20 victory. However, both of these teams have evolved greatly since then and feature two of the best defences in the NFL over the last 6-8 games of the season.

QB/D

Alex Smith hasn’t been a fantasy stud at QB this year and has now thrown the ball thirty or less times in his last 7 games. However, the Chiefs QB doesn’t turn the ball over much, if at all, and brings an intriguing rushing element to the table every week. Smith averaged over 30 yards a game rushing over the season and was far more active in that regard towards the end of the year. The Texans defense has been quite tough on QBs lately and have held opposing QBs to less than 250 passing yards in 9 straight games. Given the fact they are at home I’d love to recommend the Texans as target for defensive purposes this week but they get a tough matchup against the conservative and error avoiding Smith who will likely be a hard target for the Texans vaunted pass rush to bring down as well. Smith isn’t my top choice at QB but I respect him enough to avoid using the Texans defense against him and think it’s possible he puts up with a decent fantasy day in this game.

Brian Hoyer returned from a concussion last week to post a pretty mediocre fantasy game against a Jacksonville Squad who was simply squashed by the Texans defense. This week Hoyer has the unenviable task of going up against the Chiefs who have been one of the most opportunistic defenses in the league the last half of the year. Since losing to the Vikings in week 6 the Chiefs have reeled off 10 straight wins and have 18 INTs as a defense in that same span. While Hoyer could certainly connect with one of his big play WRs in this game for a score or two, a big game here against a D with great ball skills and a great pass rush seems unlikely. Kansas City’s D is pricy but might be the safest play of the week against a fairly limited QB in Hoyer.

RB

Both of these teams have had to endure injuries to their big name RBs this year. The Chiefs initially turned to Charcandrick West to act as their main back after Jamaal Charles went down but his ineffective play has turned this into a time share with the more explosive Spencer Ware. Ware played on 29 snaps in week 17—compared to 36 for West—but still out produced West badly, picking up 76 yards on 16 carries, while also finding the end zone once. It’s going to be hard to predict the exact breakdown of work between these two but given West’s ineffectiveness and his own lack of usage in the pass game I’d probably be more interested in Ware right now for DFS purposes (who you can get for cheap at only $4000). His size and power gives him a better shot at cutting through a tough Texans front around the Red Zone.

The Texans RB situation has been a difficult one to figure out this year but Alfred Blue has rushed for over 100 yards in two straight games. The issue with Blue for fantasy this week is that the Chiefs rush defense is one of the best in the league and have only allowed one 100-yard rusher all year. Blue doesn’t get much use in the pass game either which further limits his value and makes a big game highly unlikely if the Texans get behind early. The volume Blue has seen in the last few games is nice but he is going to be a risky play this week at RB, a big game is hard to envision here.

WR/TE

Here are the passing targets from the Chiefs last two games:


Player Week 16 Week 17
Jeremy Maclin 7 5
Travis Kelce 7 2
Albert Wilson 5 4

Jeremy Maclin has 6 TDs in his last 6 games and has been a huge boon to the KC offense this year. While a matchup with Jonathan Joseph would be tough, the Texans stud CB doesn’t typically shadow players and Maclin has been moved around the formation all year. Even in this conservative offense Maclin is a great DFS target this week because he’s almost certain to lead the Chiefs in targets and has been their prime red zone weapon this season as well (leads them with 16 RZ targets). He’s a slight step down from the elite WRs this weekend but offers great consistency and decent upside for a lessor price… At TE Travis Kelce was one of the biggest disappointments this year at his position. Kelce started the year off with a massive 30+ point game against this same Texans team but then failed to come close to producing any games of that nature after that. The Texans defended the TE position really well outside of Kelce’s massive game and present a tough matchup. He’s not the worst idea if you want a low owned tournament play but by no means my favorite play at TE either.

Here are the passing targets from the Texans last two games:


Player Week 16 Week 17
DeAndre Hopkins 12 11
Nate Washington 5 3
Jaelen Strong 5 7

The Chiefs have had some issues covering the WR position this season but their secondary ended the season strong, allowing only one player to catch more than 5 balls against them in their last 5 games. DeAndre Hopkins burned the Chiefs in week 1 for two TDs but that was before the Chiefs had CB Sean Smith in their lineup. Smith was extremely solid to end the year and should cover Hopkins for a lot of this game. Still, with the Texans underdogs and facing such a tough run D you have to figure that a big game here is certainly possible here for Hopkins—and possibly even rookie Jaelen Strong—from sheer volume alone. With everything on the line Hopkins could see a ton of targets and in that scenario he’ll always have a chance to produce and end up as the high scoring play of the week… With Nate Washington and Cecil Shorts both banged up Jaelen Strong could be in line for a lot of more targets this weekend as well and makes for a very intriguing value play at 3k. Ultimately I think both the Texans WRs make intriguing tournament plays but might be less safe for cash game purposes.

Gameflow: This has all the makings of a close game between pretty similar teams. The Chiefs have been mowing down teams left and right lately but face an equally tough opponent this week in the Texans whose defense has really made life tough on opposition lately as well. Ultimately I am siding with the better QB here in Alex Smith who has really been terrific in his playoff career (9TDs v no INTs) and now has an elite weapon in Jeremy Maclin to work with. I’ll take the Chiefs to finally get past the first round.

Chiefs 27 Texans 20

Primary Targets:

– Spencer Ware $4000
– Chiefs D $4000
– Jeremy Maclin $6400

Secondary Targets:
– DeAndre Hopkins $8400
– Jaelen Strong $3000
– Alex Smith $5300


NFL Matchups Breakdown – Wild Card Weekend


Steelers @ Bengals

Point Total: 45.5
Spread: Steelers -2.5


DvP Rank QB WR RB TE PPG Allowed
Steelers 25th 32nd 2nd 25th 19.9
Bengals 3rd 12th 17th 16th 17.4

This game has the highest over under of the week and will mark the third meeting of these two teams this season. While the teams combined for 53 points in the last meeting, the first one was a 16-10 defensive struggle.

QB/D

This game has some big injury news to deal with and none is bigger than Andy Dalton. Dalton has the cast off his thumb but looks unlikely to suit up in this week’s game, meaning AJ McCarron will likely get his fourth straight start for the Bengals. McCarron has subbed in admirably for Dalton since he’s been out but hasn’t put up more than 18 points for fantasy yet in a single game. This is an interesting spot for McCarron for fantasy purposes as he is going up against an incredibly soft Steelers secondary who has allowed the third most passing yards to QBs in the league this year. It’s possible this game devolves into a bit of a shootout at some point and McCarron ends up throwing the ball a lot more than in past games. At $5200 he’s a cheap tournament play that would let you fit more of the big names at WR.

Ben Roethlisberger bounced back nicely last week and should be primed for a high volume game here. The Steelers may be without starting RB DeAngelo Williams which would mean more reliance on the pass game. The Bengals defense isn’t an easy target however and has only allowed 3 passing TDs in their last six games and only 1 to Big Ben in their two meetings this year. Still, while the Bengals at home is definitely a scary proposition for any QB Pittsburgh’s pass offense matches up well with anyone, as we learned this year when they destroyed the secondary’s of the Broncos and the Seahawks. Only a confluence of game flow and circumstance kept Ben out of the end zone versus this team in week 8, and it’s unlikely that happens again now that Deangelo Williams is out. I think Roethlisberger makes for one of the top choices at QB this weekend.

RB

The Bengals have truly split the workload at RB all year between Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard, with Bernard playing on 54% of the snaps this year to Hills 43%. Hill was shutdown in both games by the extremely tough Pittsburgh run defense, taking 22 carries over both games and gaining just 76 yards… good for a 3.27 ypc average. Meanwhile Bernard faired only marginally better running wise but did catch 5 balls for 50 yards in those two games. Ultimately I’m not a fan of this matchup for ether back but the versatility of Bernard will be needed by the Bengals very much if they are to win this game and crack this tough Pittsburgh front. I’d make him the target between these two as he comes in at 1k cheaper than Hill at $4000.

As mentioned earlier it appears as though DeAngelo Williams will miss this week’s game, and even if he doesn’t it will be hard to say whether he’s anywhere near 100%. If he does miss that would mean the very unheralded Fitzgerald Toussaint would get the start. Toussaint has looked average in spot duty behind Williams but would become a pretty big value play fantasy wise at only $3900 if Williams missed out. As the main carry RB in a very good offense this week Toussaint could pay off through ppr usage alone given the fact there’s not much, if any, depth behind him. Given the lack of certainty this week with many RBs, I’d definitely consider Toussaint and his big volume a must use in many formats if Williams was out.

WR/TE

Here are the passing targets from the Bengals last two games:


Player Week 16 Week 17
A.J. Green 10 5
Tyler Eifert NA 4
Marvin Jones 7 6

If you’re looking for a swerve from the very popular Jordan Reed this week Tyler Eifert is likely your best option. The Steelers secondary has given up some big games this season to WRs and TEs alike and while Eifert is coming off a concussion issue he rebounded nicely last game with 4 rec. and a TD. While Eifert is downgraded slightly without Dalton as his QB his red zone conversion rate (16 targets, 11 TDs) has been great this year. He’s got multi-TD upside in a higher scoring game… This game also sets up well for both Marvin Jones and A.J. Green. Green scorched the Steelers for 17 receptions and 250 yards in two games this year and has scored the last two weeks with McCarron as his QB. Matchup wise the Steelers don’t really have anyone who can stop Green and in a game where the Bengals are underdogs and might need to pass lots late, he might have the most upside of anyone on the slate this weekend… On a slate this short I think you can also give consideration to Marvin Jones as a play. Jones has been super consistent this year and is averaging right around 5 receptions over his last 6 games. While the big plays haven’t been there this year this matchup is one he could certainly exploit if given the opportunities. He’s an interesting value play you have to consider for tournaments.

Here are the passing targets from the Steelers last two games:


Player Week 16 Week 17
Antonio Brown 10 16
Heath Miller 6 4
Markus Wheaton 6 5
Martavis Bryant 4 2

Antonio Brown has been marvelous all season but has been mostly contained in both of his matchups with Cincy this year. You can expect Brown to be very, very highly owned in tournaments this week but given his ability to beat tough coverage he makes for a hard fade. If you’re playing cash games like HU’s and 50/50’s he’s worth fitting in but from a game theory standpoint makes for an interesting fade in tournaments. He’ll likely see a lot of the tough Adam Jones in coverage… Over the last two weeks both Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton have been headed in opposite directions. Bryant ended the season poorly and has been taking some heat for his poor play from his QB in the media. Still, Bryant’s talent isn’t to be underestimated and he’ll likely see a lot of the Bengals worst corner in Dre Kirkpatrick a lot this week. I think he’s a great tournament play and should be low owned off his poor finish to the regular season… Markus Wheaton will be a more popular value play this week, and for good reason. On top of being $1600 cheaper than Bryant, Wheaton has outplayed him and seen 5 more targets over his playing partner in the last two games. He’s a great stacking option for tournaments and value play in cash games… While I definitely prefer paying up for one of the two higher end options at TE don’t be shocked if Heath Miller surprises everyone and ends up being the top TE of the week. Roethlisberger loves Miller as a security blanket underneath and with DeAngelo Williams out could be relied on even more in this game than usual. In two games versus Cincy this year he has 20 receptions and 165 yards… make sure he’s on your radar if you need a cheap flex play.

Gameflow: These two teams have played two very different games this season, with the first being a defensive struggle won by the more well-rounded Bengals and the second being a wider open affair taken easily by PITT. Pittsburgh has deficiencies in their secondary and even though I do think the Bengals can exploit them I am going to take Pittsburgh in this game. Even with the loss of DeAngelo Williams I expect Antonio Brown and the supporting cast to carry enough of the load for the Steelers on offense to get by here and also think the Steelers D could have a decent game against AJ McCarron in his first playoff game. It should be close for a bit, but eventually the Steelers should pull away.

Steelers 27 Bengals 21

Primary Targets:

– Antonio Brown $9600
– Heath Miller $3300
– Ben Roethlisberger $7200
A.J. Green $7500
– Tyler Eifert $5000
– Fitz Toussaint $3900

Secondary Targets:

– Martavis Bryant $5600
– Marvin Jones $3700
– Giovani Bernard $4000
– Markus Wheaton $4000
– AJ McCarron $5200


Seahawks @ Vikings

Point Total: 40
Spread: Seahawks -5

DvP Rank QB WR RB TE PPG Allowed
Seahawks 2nd 3rd 1st 22nd 17.3
Vikings 10th 13th 11th 13th 18.9

These two teams played in the regular season with Seattle dismantling a banged up Vikings team 38-7. The game total here reflects the fact two very solid defenses will be going up against each other in possibly cold/windy conditions.

QB/D

Despite the low game total Russell Wilson seems like a fairly safe play this weekend. Wilson has been on a tear since week 11 or so and poses all sorts of problems for the Vikings defense n this matchup. While the Vikings have a strong pass rush Wilson’s mobility allows him to neutralize some of that effect and the lack of speed in Minnesota’s LB core could be exploited by his speed in this game. The Vikings play at a slow pace and generally are good at limiting huge days from the QB position so Wilson might be hard pressed to put up a monster game here but 20+ points seems well within reach.

From a complete performance perspective Teddy Bridgewater has done everything the Vikings have asked him to this year and they’ve rode his steady play into the playoffs. From a fantasy perspective Bridgewater has been mostly awful of course and his talent has been wasted in the Vikings run first, conservative approach. The Vikes are only projected for around 17 points or so in this game and given how good Seattle is at stopping the run they may score less than that. I don’t see upside in Teddy and like the Hawks defense to possibly put their foot down on this highly predictable Viking offense.

RB

Adrian Peterson had a pretty decent fantasy year compiling 11 TDs and over 1400 yards rushing. He’s running into a buzz saw though in the Hawks run defense this week as they have allowed exactly zero hundred yard rushers on the year and just got done shutting down highly touted rookie David Johnson in week 17. While I expect the Vikes to give Peterson lots of chances to get going in this game there’s a distinct possibility he never does and never finds the end zone either. If you’re making multiple GPP lineups I’d probably want some exposure to Peterson this weekend but would also feel fine fading him and trying to roster another high priced WR instead. This is a tough matchup and at $7300 his salary is tough to justify.

At RB for the Hawks it appears as if they will be getting back a fully healthy Marshawn Lynch for this game which is really intriguing for fantasy purposes. The Vikings didn’t allow many TDs on the ground this season but did get smoked for some big games, including one by former Hawk starter Thomas Rawls in week 13. While it’s tough to say how involved Lynch will be given the play of Wilson, the effectiveness of the pass game and his general rust from injury/layoff, I’d expect him to play a ton of snaps in a winner takes all matchup this week. At $6500 he’d be my choice if paying up at RB in this game.

WR/TE

Here’s the target distribution from the last two games for the Vikings:


Player Week 16 Week 17
Mike Wallace 6 2
Stefon Diggs 5 2
Kyle Rudolph 3 1

My Analysis of the Vikings receiving core will be brief. The Vikings don’t pass much and the Seahawks secondary has really been treading upward recently making this a spot that’s unlikely to yield much fantasy goodness for any of these players. Mike Wallace will likely see Richard Sherman most of the night making him a near must avoid in my opinion. If Minnesota was smart they would probably fire away to Stefon Diggs in this game as he’s their best receiver, has game changing talent and is likely to see lots of the Hawks worst corner in Deshawn Shead. I don’t really trust the Vikings to do that however so Diggs is at best a high variance tournament option. At TE Kyle Rudolph is a cheap option to consider but I’d probably prefer Heath Miller over him simply due to volume and the offense he’s in. All in all, I wouldn’t get too crazy with any of these players and would try to target other teams for receivers.

Here’s the target distribution from the last two games for the Seahawks:


Player Week 16 Week 17
Doug Baldwin 10 8
Tyler Lockett 6 5
Jermaine Kearse 7 3

The Hawks pass game has been simmering lately and WR Doug Baldwin has been its main catalyst. Baldwin ended the year with 11 TDs in his last 6 games but does get a somewhat tough matchup this week with the Vikings best coverage CB in Captain Munnerlyn. Still, Baldwin has been such a force in and around the red zone lately that I’m not sure if I’d put as much stock in this matchup as I would normally. Baldwin’s probably one of the better values for me at WR although the slow-paced nature of this game could cap his upside… I like both Jermaine Kearse and Tyler Lockett as value plays this week as well. The Hawks are finally uncapping the potential on Lockett and his speed is going put a ton of pressure on 37-year-old CB Terrence Newman in this game. I think there’s every bit of chance Lockett explodes here for a big play or two and he makes for a great tournament option… As for Kearse, he should see lots of Xavier Rhodes, arguably the worst Vikings CB, and could benefit if the Vikings leave him in man-to-man or overextend themselves covering Lockett/Baldwin. At $3300 he’s got potential to be a huge value pick.

Gameflow: I like some of the talent on the Vikings team but overall I don’t see them as having the scheme or fortitude to take down the Hawks here. Minnesota likes to play conservative and sit on teams with good defense and patience on offense but I don’t see them bullying a Seattle team who has arguably the hottest QB and the best run defense in the league right now. I think Minnesota will be un able to respond to any Seattle surge and think the Hawks take this one pretty easily.

Seahawks 23 Vikings 13

Primary Targets:

– Tyler Lockett $4400
– Seahawks D $4100
– Marshawn Lynch $6500

Secondary Targets:

– Russell Wilson $7000
– Doug Baldwin $6700
– Jermaine Kearse $3300
– Stefon Diggs $4300


Packers @ Redskins

Point Total: 45
Spread: Packers -1


DvP Rank QB WR RB TE PPG Allowed
Packers 7th 9th 14th 15th 20.2
Redskins 23rd 28th 21st 18th 23.7

This game has the second highest game total on the slate and features two teams going in semi-opposite directions. The Redskins ended the year on fire while the Packers ended the year with two poor losses where they scored a combined 21 points.

QB/D

I’m not a fan of either defense from this game and feel like there’s potential for a possible shootout here. Kirk Cousins has played brilliantly in his last 3-4 starts throwing for 12 TDs v 1 INT in that span. Green Bay’s defense has done well to keep a lid on any big passing games this season and hasn’t allowed more than 2 passing TDs in a game since week 8. I’m not sure we’ll see another 4 TD performance out of him but I expect Cousins to play solidly and possibly eclipse the 300-yard mark, especially considering Washington’s run game really isn’t much to write home about. Cousins is a pretty interesting tournament option this week on a short slate with limited upside and options at QB.

While Green Bay may not win this game I do think it sets up very well for Aaron Rodgers from a fantasy perspective. With Washington’s offense rolling and the Packers not able to establish a run game it’s very likely that at some point Green Bay’s only hope this week will be to allow Rodgers to throw the ball 40+ times and beat the Skins through the air. Rodgers may not have had a strong regular season but I expect him to go out swinging in this game and think there’s a good chance he reaches the 300-yard mark this weekend.

RB

Neither team has had a great run game for fantasy purposes and both teams have some injuries at this position. Eddie Lacy is slightly banged up with bruised ribs, but gets a nice matchup this week against a Redskins team who has certainly struggled to stop the run at times this year. The Packers have still been splitting snaps a lot between Lacy and running mate James Starks who actually was in on 3 more snaps last week than his partner. If the Packers get down in this game it could actually be Starks who see’s more of the work this week as he is their primary passing down back, and been pretty effective in that role. At $3600 he might be more of a stacking option to use in tournaments. The Skins have allowed over 120 yards rushing per game so there is some upside with the Green Bay backfield.

Washington rookie Matt Jones is banged up and looks like he might miss this game which leaves the Skins with Alfred Morris, Pierre Thomas and Chris Thompson at RB. I don’t love any of these players to be quite honest. Morris could be in a decent spot to get a big workload and ran quite well against the Cowboys last week. Still, Morris has no involvement in the pass game and is going up against a decent front in the Packers. I might be more inclined to roster passing back Pierre Thomas than Morris this week, who should see more work if Matt Jones is out and offers decent potential due to his receiving abilities. Thomas has worked in front of Chris Thompson in the last two weeks and at only $3400 is someone to look at depending how the injury news breaks.

WR/TE

Here’s the passing targets from Green Bay’s last two games:


Player Week 16 Week 17
Randall Cobb 4 0
Richard Rodgers 3 9
James Jones 13 14

Given the number of targets James Jones has received the last couple of games you have to love the idea of rostering him at his low price of only $4100 this weekend. Jones has emerged as the really only real credible outside threat for Green Bay’s anemic passing offense and gets a good matchup with the Skins who have allowed the fourth most TDs in the league to WRs this year. Price wise he’s probably the most reliable option for fantasy this week once you delve under the 4500 mark… While I love the matchup for Randall Cobb versus this weak Redskin secondary you really have to question whether he’s worth paying up for in any format this week. Cobb hasn’t scored since week 11 now and on the year only has three games where he’s caught 7 receptions or more. He remains a highly volatile and overpriced play at WR, even in this great matchup… TE Richard Rodgers showed up with 9 targets last week and could be relied on more in this game by his QB, especially if the aforementioned Cobb remains ineffective. Still, there’s two or three players I like better than Rodgers at TE meaning he’d really only be in play for me if I was making multiple tournaments lineups and wanted more exposure to this game.

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


Player Week 16 Week 17
Jordan Reed 11 4
Pierre Garcon 13 4
Jamison Crowder 3 7
DeSean Jackson 6 NA

DeSean Jackson rested last week and should be ready for this game. With Sam Shields still in the concussion protocol it’s looking Jackson could get matched up against rookie Damarious Randall, who’s been OK but might be in a spot to be overwhelmed by Jackson’s speed on the outside. Either way I really like Jackson as a tournament option this week and love the production he’s shown with Cousins this year (4TDs in last 6 games)… Pierre Garcon isn’t someone I’ve used or even talked about this year but he’s really come on lately and now scored in three straight games. Garcon would also stand to benefit hugely from Shields being out and might be the Redskins receiver most fantasy players overlook this week. Consider him as well for tournaments… Finally, there’s Jordan Reed. What else needs to be said except make sure you have some exposure to him this weekend as I expect Kirk Cousins to lean on him heavily in this game. Reed has been tearing through the league in his last three games with 5 TDs in that span and over 330 yards gained. He’s the most reliable pay at TE and someone I’d not want to leave at home in cash games.

Gameflow: I think these two teams match up pretty evenly to be honest. The Packers are not a good team at the moment and even though the Redskins have holes they’re the ones coming in hot. I hate picking against great QBs like Aaron Rodgers but there is something seriously dysfunctional about the Packers that is keeping them from reaching the next level. I’ll take the home team here and an offense that is rolling out some serious weaponry every week.

Redskins 28 Packers 24

Primary Targets:

– Jordan Reed $6300
– Kirk Cousins $5900
– James Jones $4100

Secondary Targets:

– Pierre Thomas $3400
– Aaron Rodgers $6400
– James Starks $3600
– DeSean Jackson $4500
– Pierre Garcon $4200