With no Monday Night Game in Week 17, the final week of the regular season always seems to end too soon. But daily fantasy sports continues right along with the NFL into the postseason, so get prepared now. Take an early look at the prices for some of the guys who made it into the first round of the playoffs, and who you might want to target – or not.
Russell Wilson @ MIN ($7,000) – He hasn’t had fewer than 21 fantasy points since Week 11, and he has done it in different ways: from 6 to 50+ rushing yards, 2 to 5 touchdown passes. But one thing has been consistent – other than the St. Louis game in Week 16, no turnovers. Minnesota’s defense has generally been stout against both the run and the pass, but Wilson has been Seattle’s best weapon on offense – they will put the game in his hands, which helps him have as high of a floor and as high of a ceiling as anyone else going this weekend.
Aaron Rodgers @ WAS ($6,400) – I do not like Rodgers this week. I just want to make that clear. He’s the third most expensive QB, and the first on the board where his opponent is a ‘green means go’ matchup. He represents a legit savings over Big Ben and Wilson – in other words, I completely understand how he could look appealing. But if you’re going to save some money and not take a top-two guy this week, I would save even more and go deeper. Rodgers has been over 20 fantasy points only once since Week 11 (and only three times since Week 4). He has had better matchups than this one scattered throughout the season, with very little to show for it: 11 fantasy points against Oakland, 19 against Dallas, 14 against Oakland – those are not the types of games you want to see out of your QB (fantasy or otherwise) heading into the postseason.
Kirk Cousins vs. GB ($5,900) – Cousins might “only” save you $500 as compared to Rodgers, but here’s the thing – for a while now, Cousins has been better than Rodgers, in tougher matchups – and it hasn’t been close. He didn’t play the whole game in Week 17, and in the seven weeks prior he had only two games under 20 fantasy points, as well as three with over 30, something Rodgers only did twice all season long.
A.J. McCarron vs. PIT ($5,200) – The only starting QB who is any cheaper is Teddy Bridgewater playing Seattle. So this is a move designed to be contrarian, and to save money, not to maximize upside. But honestly, I don’t hate it. He has a stud WR and a top TE, decent backs to catch a few balls and keep the chains moving, and he could find himself in a situation where he is forced to try to put up a lot of points to keep up with Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and the rest of this Steelers attack. He had two interceptions in his last game against PIT (his first start), but he also completed 69% of his passes for 280 yards and two scores (and hasn’t been picked against since).
Adrian Peterson vs. SEA ($7,300) – I, personally, find the top wide receiver and tight end options much more appealing this week than these top RBs. At least AP doesn’t have to go to Seattle, but this matchup still isn’t very enticing. Last time he played the Seahawks, he ended up with eight carries for 18 yards. I am spending my money elsewhere this weekend.
Marshawn Lynch @ MIN ($6,500) – Carroll doesn’t seem to like playing the whole ‘running back by committee’ game, which is nice. If Lynch is really returning, then, it becomes pretty clear that they were holding off specifically for this point, and now are putting him out there because he is ready to go. That could mean that he is the best, freshest and most dangerous back in the entire playoff bracket. The risk this weekend is that they try to ease him back in, and Wilson does a lot more damage with the passing game than Lynch does carrying it. But if he is the primary ball-carrier, the way Seattle has been moving the ball, and knowing how they’d want to get him engaged early, I would be shocked if he didn’t end up with at least one or two opportunities to punch in a score.
Eddie Lacy @ WAS ($4,500) – While I just don’t love the prospects of trusting Green Bay’s offense right now, I don’t think they’re going to get shut out by the Redskins – it’s not as if they’re playing some really good defense. But Rodgers has been struggling against everyone of late, not just good defenses. Lacy on the other hand has had four out of seven games with 15+ points. There is still downside, but for this price, against a susceptible opponent, he could end up being the best running back play of the weekend. He is a more logical choice in a larger tournament format.
Jordan Todman @ CIN ($4,100) – Obviously, if DeAngelo can’t go, someone is going to represent a value. We’re not 100% sure who that will be – Toussaint got twelve carries last week, but for only 24 yards. This running game has been a catalyst for the offense all season long, not a beneficiary of the passing game. The Steelers are going to want better production than that from their back, so there is a good chance they give the more explosive Todman a crack at the job first to see if he can come close to replicating what Le’Veon and DeAngelo have given them all year long.
Antonio Brown @ CIN ($9,600) – A shoutout to Markus Wheaton ($4,000) is a vote of confidence for this offense, which has proven a few times this year that it’s not infallible. Picking Antonio Brown, though, doesn’t require faith in the Steelers to win, or faith in the offense – it just requires faith in him. Because he is, on his own, the best receiver in the NFL – the type of guy who would be killing it on any team, with any QB. He just happens to have a good team, and a very good QB – even better. When they needed a win in the worst way last week, it was him, leading them into the postseason with 13 for 187 and a score. They’re going to need him again.
DeAndre Hopkins vs. KC ($8,400) – The only guy on the board who truly has the same upside as Antonio, you have to consider him for $1,200 less. I’m talking about the double-digit catches, 200+ yard, multiple score upside. And the matchup isn’t any worse. Hopkins definitely has the lower floor as well, but if you’re looking for a GPP pick who could put you over the top, he is an option to consider.
Doug Baldwin @ MIN ($6,700) – I love Wilson this week, and he has to throw it to someone. Baldwin hasn’t just been on an absolutely epic scoring binge (although there is that). He has also been racking up catches (averaging 6/game since Week 10) and yards (80+ five times over that stretch).
DeSean Jackson vs. GB ($4,500) – The Packers have really only faced three even halfway decent offenses since their Week 8 bye: @ DEN in Week 9 (29 points allowed), @ CAR in Week 10 (37 points allowed) and @ ARI in Week 16 (38 points allowed). This Washington offense is firing on all cylinders right now, and one of those cylinders is DeSean’s game-breaking ability. I like your chances at getting the big play you need to make this a smart lineup choice.
Jordan Reed vs. GB ($6,300) – When it comes to upside this weekend, there is Jordan Reed and there is everyone else. If you’re paying for a top tight end, just pay all the way up for Reed. The favorite target of Cousins, he has been absolutely on fire, catching 25 passes and 5 touchdowns in weeks 14-16. With six or more catches in five of seven leading up to week 17, he was as consistent as anyone, with as much or more upside than anyone at the position.
Tyler Eifert vs. PIT ($5,000) – Refer to my thoughts above if you want to know whether I think it’s a good idea to pay for the second most expensive TE option on the board. Eifert has scored four touchdowns in his last four games, so the game logs are attractive enough, but with a total of 12 catches over those four games, the scoring is hard to trust.
Richard Rodgers @ WAS ($4,000) – No one is getting open for Aaron Rodgers. There is just nothing there for him, and no time to find it. But Rodgers is a big target who can post up defenders and provides a decent safety-valve type option at times. In his last five games, he had one catch in three of them, but in the other two, he had eight and seven, so there is real – if sporadic – upside in a PPR format.
Heath Miller @ CIN ($3,300) – If the Steelers really do end up down DeAngelo, there will still be a running back in the game, but you can probably expect 50+ attempts out of Big Ben. The short passing attack – of which Miller can play a big part – can take the place of many of the carries they had been doling out, which could help everyone in the passing game.
Chiefs @ HOU ($4,000) – With a bunch of evenly matched teams and tough-to-predict games, you are basically just rooting for turnovers when you pick a defense this weekend. Brian Hoyer has thrown a pick in four out of five games. Simple enough, really. And one of the league’s best special teams units doesn’t hurt either – root for a touchdown, too.
Steelers @ CIN ($3,700) – There is a theme, here. I think McCarron is good enough to give the Bengals a shot to win this game, but if you’re taking a flyer on a defense and looking for a chance at a really big game, not just serviceable, picking on the most inexperienced QBs isn’t a bad idea. While there has been some improvement, McCarron did throw those two picks against the Steelers in his first game as a starter this year. A repeat of that likely means you made a pretty good call owning this defensive unit.