Throughout the season, I’ve discussed the merits of placing a wide receiver in your flex spot in tournaments. DraftKings is a full PPR site, and wide receivers typically have more upside than running backs in that scoring format. Meanwhile, I often use a running back in the flex in cash games because backs are more consistent than pass-catchers on a weekly basis.
In the playoffs, though, I don’t think you automatically need to place any single position in the flex spot, in any league type, because the player pool is smaller. If you really like Eddie Lacy, C.J. Anderson, and Daniel Herron this week, for example, there’s no reason you can’t start one as a flex in a tournament. The opportunity cost of doing so is smaller than during the regular season because there are fewer pass-catchers from which to choose.
The Top Five
Demaryius Thomas, Denver vs Indianapolis, $8500 – It will be interesting to see how popular Thomas is on DraftKings this weekend. On one hand, he’s playing an Indy defense that has allowed the second-fewest points to wide receivers this season. On the other, he’s the top option on an offense that’s projected by Vegas to score more than any other this weekend.
It’s worth noting that Indianapolis shut down Thomas for four receptions and 48 yards in Week 1, although I don’t think that’s terribly actionable information. The bigger concern is that the Broncos are running the ball so much more, but I still like Thomas a lot in this contest.
Dez Bryant, Dallas at Green Bay, $8400 – Bryant is a fairly high-variance wide receiver because he doesn’t have a very high floor on his targets like Antonio Brown or someone like that, due primarily to Dallas’s stubborn refusal to pass the ball on first down this year. I think the Cowboys are going to try everything they can to run the ball on Green Bay this weekend, and I think they’ll be able to get something going on the ground, too.
I’m also concerned about Tony Romo’s potential ineffectiveness in the cold temperatures. He has small hands, which have historically been bad news for quarterbacks when the temperature drops.
I don’t think Romo’s median projection should shift much, but I definitely think there’s a very wide range of outcomes for him in this game, with a really poor performance perhaps becoming more likely.
Jordy Nelson, Green Bay vs Dallas, $8300 – Dallas’s defense is ranked in the top five against opposing receivers, but that’s a flawed number because they’ve been helped so much by the offensive game plan this season. I like both of the Packers’ receivers this week, for different reasons. The Cowboys tend to struggle with smaller receivers, but I also don’t think there’s any way that Orlando Scandrick or Brandon Carr can stand up to Nelson in the red zone. Nelson might be semi-touchdown-dependent, and thus perhaps not as strong of a cash play as Randall Cobb (for the price), but he has a huge ceiling.
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis at Denver, $7600 – There are a ton of things to like about Hilton in Denver. First, his play is so connected to Andrew Luck’s that you can pair them together and know that if Luck has a good day, Hilton will, too. The other thing to like is the projected game script; with Denver probably winning late, this is the sort of game in which we could easily see 50-plus attempts from Luck, and he’s one of the most aggressive quarterbacks in the NFL when trailing.
Randall Cobb, Green Bay vs Dallas, $7300 – As I mentioned, I like Cobb a lot this week. I think it’s going to be really difficult for you to fit both Cobb and Nelson into a stack with Rodgers – basically impossible, really – so you’ll need to choose which receiver you prefer. I’ll personally be rolling out a Rodgers/Cobb lineup and a Rodgers/Nelson lineup, just to be safe. The reason I feel comfortable doing that is because the Packers don’t use many other players in their passing game, so at least one of the two should be in for a big day.
Five Mid-Priced Wide Receivers
Emmanuel Sanders, Denver vs Indianapolis, $7100 – Sanders has been the person hurt most by the Broncos’ recent running ways. Whereas Demaryius Thomas is still in line to get his No. 1 looks, Denver has replaced a lot of the quick screens to Sanders with C.J. Anderson runs. While Sanders isn’t completely out of play, I’ll typically be paying up for Demaryius when I want Denver exposure.
Julian Edelman, New England vs Baltimore, $6400 – I’m not normally bullish on receivers who can’t score and also can’t stretch the field, but Edelman could have a lot of value this weekend on DraftKings if the Patriots come out throwing. The Baltimore defense is horrific against the pass and really strong against the run, so I have a feeling we’re going to see a lot of three, four, and five-wide sets from the Patriots. Edelman could actually have good upside, despite his lack of scoring ability, from bulk targets alone.
Brandon LaFell, New England vs Baltimore, $6000 – I think you can stack LaFell with Edelman, if you prefer, particularly because the two aren’t really competing for the same stats (receptions versus touchdowns). That means a LaFell/Gronk stack might not be as smart since both players rely on touchdowns for production. Still, this is one of the few weeks that I prefer Edelman because I think he’s going to get a ton of targets, assuming he’s healthy.
Steve Smith, Baltimore at New England, $5800 – The Patriots have the third-best defense against wide receivers. The Ravens are projected to just barely crack 20 points, and I’d imagine they’re going to keep the ball on the ground as long as they can in New England. I’m not really high on anyone on the Ravens’ offense this weekend.
Torrey Smith, Baltimore at New England, $5600 – If you’re going to play a receiver on the Ravens, I think Torrey Smith is a better option than Steve Smith solely because the former has an underrated ability to score. It will be interesting to see how much Torrey will face off against Brandon Browner, because I think he might be able to beat Browner downfield if/when the Pats don’t have a safety over top.
Five Value Wide Receivers
Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina at Seattle, $5000 – I was talking with a very highly ranked daily fantasy sports player who told me he likes situations in which a receiver is facing a good defense, but only up to a point. Benjamin is probably going to have pretty low usage this weekend – the main positive he offers in GPPs – but the matchup is so bad that it’s probably not even worth the trouble. With Carolina projected to score just 14.25 points, this might be a situation to avoid completely.
Doug Baldwin, Seattle vs Carolina, $4500 – The Seahawks might not need to throw the ball all that much this week, but I still think Baldwin is underpriced at only $4500. The Panthers’ defense is playing really well, but I could see them loading the box to stop Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson and then letting Baldwin get behind them for a long score. This is a somewhat high-variance pick, but worth it given the cost.
Terrance Williams, Dallas at Green Bay, $4100 – Williams was the key to success on DraftKings last weekend, and he’s been able to get the ball into the end zone at a high rate all year. I think he’s worth GPP consideration just for the opportunities he will have to score, but there’s also a good chance he provides you next to nothing, so I much prefer Baldwin in cash games.
Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis at Denver, $3600 – Moncrief scored last week and he should get a decent number of looks again in the Divisional Round, assuming this contest follows the game flow we’re all expecting. I like him as a GPP-only option.
Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis at Denver, $3500 – I don’t see any reason to play Wayne, even at this huge discount, because Moncrief is much more talented and just $100 more expensive. If you aren’t going to play one of the Indy receivers, it looks like Baldwin is the only legitimate cheap wide receiver value.