This week will have more fireworks than the Wildcard round last week. Mahomes vs Luck, Elliott vs Gurley, Rivers vs Brady! We have to continue to look at the values offered on the slate to find the right balance of “dropping stacks” and “pinching pennies”.
Andrew Luck – $6200 @ Chiefs
Luck is playing better than anyone could have imagined at the beginning of the season. Frank Reich is coaching out of his mind as well turning the Colts into a legit contender. Now they are facing the red hot Chiefs in the highest total on the slate at 57. This is sure to be a shootout and even if somehow the Colts get to a multi-possession lead we can expect Reich to stay on the pedal. The Chiefs have allowed the most per game fantasy points to QBs of remaining playoff teams. Luck has thrown at least two TDs in each of his last three games.
Ezekiel Elliott – $8200 @ Rams
This contest looks to be competitive with a 49 point over/under. The Rams have given the second most points to rushers in their last two games and they are 28th in rush DVOA. Zeke got 31 touches against the Seahawks (whose rush DVOA is much better at 17th) for around 30 points. Zeke will continue to be a significant part of the game plan to control the clock and keep the potentially explosive Rams off the field.
Todd Gurley – $8000 vs Cowboys
In his last significant game against the Eagles in week 15 Gurley posted 34 points. Most of that came through the air on 10 receptions and the is likely going to be part of the plan against the Cowboys being that they have given the 5th most receptions to RBs on the season. Gurley has had plenty of time off so he should be rested and healed up from his injury a few weeks ago.
Melvin Gordon – $6200 – @ Patriots
Gordon is in the top 5 running backs as far as price, so we will consider him a “pay up” option. He hasn’t had the stellar performances from earlier in the season, but he has been dealing with knee injuries and faced Baltimore’s stout rush defense in that time. But this week he probably represents the absolute best value on the slate now facing the Patriots. Gordon averaged 20+ touches in the first 11 games of the season, and now appears to be regressing to the mean after his injury and a slump in touches to close out the regular season. New England has given up 100+ rushing yards in three of their last four games and currently have the 19th ranked rush DVOA. Keeping Brady off the field is key to beating the Patriots and running the ball effectively is critical to that plan.
Michael Thomas – $7900 vs Eagles
While the Eagles defense has been better in their secondary in their last few games, they haven’t given up many scores (explaining their 15th ranked pass DVOA inspite of their fantasy points against ranking). Thomas is still worth a play because over their last three games the Eagles have allowed the highest per-game average of receiving yards (and receptions) of remaining teams. This gives a player like Thomas 100+ yard upside which comes with a nice 3 point bonus.
Tyreek Hill – $7400 vs Colts
I’m torn on this suggestion. On one hand, Hill faces the 20 ranked pass DVOA; on the other hand the Colts are 9th in fantasy points yielded to receivers. Reasons to take this GPP shot is that Hill will be fresh and the Colts have not seen a receiver like him at all this season. Tyreek shall surely stretch the field giving him a chance at some of his signature deep scoring plays.
T.Y. Hilton – $6700 @ Chiefs
Five receptions for 85 yards is hardly exciting, but we have to remember that the Colts were up quickly last week and that likely changed the game plan to be more conservative. As mentioned above, the Colts will not have that luxury this week. The Chiefs have given up the 5th most receptions on the season and the most fantasy points per game in their last two to receivers. It’s a great spot for Hilton in this sure fireworks show.
Amari Cooper – $6500 @ Rams
Normally, I wouldn’t consider this paying up, but he is the 4th most expensive receiver on the slate. How is Cooper $1k cheaper this week after a seven reception 109-yard performance? I don’t know, but I’ll take it especially with the unexpected upside we could see from him even though the Rams are ranked 9th in pass DVOA. The Rams problem is the run and they are going to have to bring someone extra in the box to stop Zeke. This should leave plenty of opportunity for Cooper to run double moves off of play action for some deep bombs. Of remaining teams the Rams did give up the most receiving TDs to receivers (tied with New Orleans for 20).
Travis Kelce – $7000 vs Colts
It may be hard to pull the trigger on him being the most expensive option at the position, but the price could lower ownership. The fact that the Colts are the worst in defending tight ends from a reception and yard perspective should be encouraging. Kelce may require us to scrounge for some penny pinching options, but with the right value plays he could surely be worth it.
Eric Ebron – $5500 @ Chiefs
For this one the math is simple. The Chiefs have given up the most TDs and 3rd most receiving yards to tight ends. In their two most recent games Kansas City gave up the highest fantasy point average of teams remaining in the playoffs to the position. TD upside, projected high scoring game, an opponent that can put up points; what more could you ask for?
Nick Foles – $5400 @ Saints
I may just be a hopeful sucker for some Foles magic, but there was a similar spot like this where the red hot Vikings were coming in just on week after Foles won with an unimpressive stat line. We all know what happened there. We also know that the Eagles appeared to be ghosts last time they faced the Saints. Therein lies the beauty of this play; everyone still doubts the Eagles giving them zero chance in this game. This will surely keep ownership low and it cost you very little of your cap space; great for GPPs. The Saints have given up the 3rd most yards to receivers on the season and they are 31st and 30th in DVOA against the primary and secondary receivers. (29th DVOA vs Receiving RBs)
Marlon Mack – $5900 @ Chiefs
Out of teams playing in the divisional round, the Chiefs are the worst in giving up yards and TDs to running backs on the season which aligns with their dead last rush DVOA. How Mack is this cheap against this defense baffles me, but we should take full advantage of this. I mean the guy has had over 100 yards rushing and at least a score in 3 of his last four against Dallas, Houston, and Tennessee (5th, 1st, and 15th in rush DVOA). In the event that the Colts surprise and get up by 9+ points late in the game, Mack could get the role of ‘closer’. This isn’t exactly ‘pinching pennies’ by the strictest definition, but this cap saving opportunity with crazy upside is a way to help out with some studs elsewhere.
James White – $4900 / Rex Burkhead – $3600 vs Chargers
The Chargers have allowed the 4th most receptions and the most receiving yards to running backs on the season, but they are also 10th in rush DVOA. What this means to me is a hard time for Michel and more opportunities for White. The challenge here is how much is Burkhead involved. Burkhead’s return has been to the tune of 10 touches per game, which has cost White about 4 touches per game. To be honest, this could be a true GPP coin flip, but if it hits your advantage is significant since both of these guys are sure to be low owned.
Dontrelle Inman – $4800 @ Chiefs
This one is pretty simple: Inman has found the end zone in each of his last 3 games. Those scores have been accompanied by at least 4 receptions and 46 yards. If we assume that is his floor ( with the full understanding of the variance associated with touchdowns) then that’s 14 points; right at 3X return. Potential for a 3X floor with the upside of the Chiefs defense allowing the third most DK points to receivers of remaining teams is somewhat enticing.
Mike Williams – $4700 @ Patriots
This is a true shot in the dark as the Patriots’ stats versus opposing receivers are pretty good among the remaining teams. This option is discussed purely based on how Belichick game plans. He is know to focus the defense on taking away the opponent’s best weapon; in this case Keenan Allen or Melvin Gordon. This should leave plenty of opportunities for Williams to get 1-on-1 coverage where he typically has a size advantage. His red zone upside alone is worth the price.
Golden Tate – $4600 / Nelson Agholor – $4300 @ Saints
The Saints have given up the most receiving yards and Draft Kings points to receivers on the season which makes us look at Eagles receivers seriously. A look at DVOA shows that we should be looking at Alshon with the Saint ranked 31st in WR1 DVOA, but who is the WR2 (Saints 30th WR2 DVOA)? The answer is a coin flip with Agholor the more explosive option, and Golden Tate the trending possession type of receiver. Since Tate’s arrival, he has averaged a full target more than Agholor, although they have been pretty even since Foles took over as signal caller. Tate is the preferred option due to his likely pairing against P.J. Williams who has struggled in the slot at times.
Josh Reynolds – $4500 vs Cowboys
Reynolds has had almost 7 targets per game since week 11, and that sample includes a 2 target, 2 reception dud of a game. In their season finale against the 49ers, Reynolds went off converting 4 of 7 targets for 55 yards and two scores. We know that TDs are volatile, but DVOA indicates that the third receiver is the soft spot for this Dallas defense (ranked 22nd against ‘Other WRs’). Cooks, Woods, and Gurley are going to demand a lot of attention which could leave Reynolds 1-on-1. He could easily get lost in the red zone remind everyone why he deserves respect in this critical area of the field.
Ted Ginn Jr. – $4400 vs Eagles
According to DVOA, it’s best to attack the Eagles through the air with the second wide receiver (22nd DVOA vs WR2). Assuming Ginn looks to resume the role as the two we could see the Saints try to take advantage of Ginn’s speed against this secondary who is susceptible to the double move. All it takes is one deep bomb for a score to return value.
Blake Jarwin – $3400 @ Rams
Jarwin only saw three targets against the Seahawks last week who were 10th in DVOA vs the position. After this down week people may be looking to pay up into more reliable production, dropping his ownership. This is good for us because his matchup this week is quietly better. While the Rams are 5th in DVOA against tight ends, they have also allowed the 2nd most yards to the position. Could Jarwin be in store for another performance like that of week 17? I would like to find out that he does with him on my roster.
Hunter Henry – $2800 @ Patriots
This is a blind attempt at expected low ownership that could blow up. No stats support Henry as a legitimate option and he is comming of a torn ACL from 7 months ago. All these things stack against him, but this is exactly the type of play that stuns us all when it works.
Gerald Everett – $2700 vs Cowboys
The Cowboys have given up the 10th most DK points to tight ends on the season which correlates well with their 19th DVOA rank vs the position. The Rams have increased their usage of Everett recently to the tune of 6-7 targets per game in weeks 14-16. During this time period there were more ’12’ personnel looks as well which hurt Reynolds snaps, ut it provided Everett the extra opportunity. Since production at the position is typically low from a yardage perspective, we want to look at receptions. In this statistic, Dallas allowed the 6th most receptions to the position this season.
Cowboys – $2200 @ Rams
The Rams have had 11 turnovers in their last 5 games to close the season. The Cowboys have generated pressure pretty consistently and Goff has shown cracks in his armor when pressured lately. The Cowboys do have the the defensive makeup to cover downfield to giving valuable extra time for the pass rush to get home. We have seen the Cowboys ability to generate turnovers with 7 in their last 5 games.