This should be one of the best weekends in football all year with so many storylines going. There’s the anniversary of the catch/no-catch for Dez Bryant vs. Green Bay. We have coaches facing former teams with Dan Quinn and Bill O’Brien. Weather looks awful in Kansas City. The Rookie tandem in Dallas looking to knock off future Hall-of-Famer Aaron Rodgers. I absolutely love this slate and have continued the trend with my article where I will still pick 10 plays like this weekend, just with a different twist On a short, you will need some popular plays to win. You can’t get too cute. So I have my top play(s) and my deep/contrarian plays for each game as well as 1-2 honorable mention contrarian plays. Hope you guys enjoy the slate and if you haven’t yet, tune into this week’s TFA podcast where Kevin Steele (@FantasyWrath13), Ben Cummins (@BenCumminsFF) and Anthony Pinzone (the1andonlypz) break down the slate for more insight on the games.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Atlanta Falcons
SEA Implied Total: 23.5
ATL Implied Total: 28
Julio Jones ($8400)
I don’t know if it’s just me, but it feels as if Julio Jones hasn’t been getting the respect he deserves coming into this game. The guy is arguably the best WR in football when he plays a full 16-game season. No disrespect to Antonio Brown (love the Steelers) but the upside the guy produces is far greater than any other player in my opinion. The problem is he is a Jekyll and Hyde players, we’ve seen games as low as 1.6 or as high as 51 on DK.
All that said, he’s one of my favorite players to pay for this week because his upside in a spot I project him to lower owned than he should really intrigue me. Towards the end of the season, Julio was hard to project in spots dealing with his toe injury, but he’s scored over 20 DK points in half of his home games – twice in his past two. Last game versus Seattle he torched their secondary with Sherman on him for 7-139-1 (he should have had 40 more yards if not for a no-call on Sherman to end the game). This time around Seattle won’t have Earl Thomas over the top, and per J.J. Zachariason Seattle is giving up 16 pass plays of 20 or more yards without him – 2nd in the league. Julio is the main guy I want from this game.
Deep Contrarian Play(s):
Jermaine Kearse ($3300)
The more I dive into this slate the more I’m beginning to come around on Jermaine Kearse. Listen, these receiving options at Wilson’s disposal are all phenomenal. Baldwin, Graham, and now Richardson have big play-making ability. However, Kearse has been consistently good for Wilson in the playoffs for years. He’s had two touchdowns in every year Seattle has been in the postseason. 45 targets, 28 catches, and 471 yards in his past eight playoff games over the past three years before last week’s game versus Detroit.
Kearse would have had a much better line if Baldwin would not have stolen the touchdown from him, which Baldwin mentioned earlier this week he felt bad for doing. That would have given him 11.7 DK points as opposed to the 3.4 he had against Detroit.
Devonta Freeman ($5900)
Loved Freeman a lot more to begin the week. Will pivot to him on teams where I have LeGarrette Blount if Blount ruled out. Freeman has fantastic home splits and incredible red zone usage. Coleman’s presence does worry me a little bit.
Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots
HOU Implied Total: 14.5
NE Implied Total: 30
LeGarrette Blount ($5800)
If the Fantasy Gods are on my side (and yours for that matter if you love Blount as much as I do), they will let Blount be a game-time decision going into Saturday night’s match-up. Already people are talking up Dion Lewis which is great for Blount’s ownership. If he plays, Blount will be on 75 percent of my lineups. Minimum. And it’s solely because of the match-up here. He’s way too cheap for the production he’s had in games where New England is favored by double-digits. There were five games where the Patriots were projected to win by double-digits this season.
Week 16 @ MIA – favored by 17 points – Blount’s line: 20-50-2, 17 DK points (NE won 41-3)
Week 13 vs. LA – favored by 13.5 points – Blount’s line: 18-88-1, 14.8 DK points (NE won 26-10)
W12 @ NYJ – favored by 9.5 points – Blount’s line: 11-67-0, 6.7 DK points (NE won 22-17)
W11 @ SF – favored by 11.5 points – Blount’s line: 19-124-0, 15.4 DK points (NE won 30-17)
W5 @ CLE – favored by 10 points – Blount’s line: 18-37-1, 9.7 DK points (NE won 33-13)
As you can see above the only two matchups he disappointed in were the week 5 game in Cleveland (Brady threw 40 times and scored 3 touchdowns) and week 12 (Brady threw 50 times). Those games obviously don’t bode well for Blount’s usage because he’s not a passing back. You want the Patriots to give him the ball. Since they are heavy home favorites I’m willing to try and predict the game script of Blount going for 100 yards and multiple touchdowns. Blount is the only guy outside of Brady who I can predict with certainty can score 2-3 times in this game. Another important tidbit is in games over the past two seasons when the Patriots are home favorites Blount is averaging 17 DK points.
Deep Contrarian Play(s):
Danny Amendola ($3500)
With Mike Mitchell out, Michael Floyd is expected to be the starter and he makes for an interesting play. But if he’s the starter that should mean he should see a lot of A.J. Bouye who I would not target this weekend at all. Floyd might be able to get loose for a TD but he could have a line of 1-19-1 which isn’t enough. A guy I’m interested who I have used in past Patriots playoff games is Danny Amendola. He, too, could have a pretty basic line on Saturday for under 10 DK points, but he’s had success with Brady in the playoffs. In seven playoff games with NE, he has 21 catches for 271 yards and three touchdowns on 33 targets. I guarantee you this guy will be under 5 percent owned since he’s missed action the past four weeks. He makes for a stellar pivot off of Michael Floyd.
Dion Lewis ($3900) – will be chalky if Blount ruled out. Great play if Blount plays because he’s seen 17 RZ touches in only seven games this year. Had double-digit carries in last three games to end the regular season.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
PIT Implied Total: 21.3
KC Implied Total: 23.8
Le’Veon Bell ($10,500)
Just going to be upfront right now, if you’re not playing Bell this week on your team and you’re not rolling out multiple lineups…I don’t tink you’re winning money. I really don’t. This guy is going to be their entire offense with the expected weather to be freezing rain on top of the snow they’ve had in Kansas City, and then how bad Ben Roethlisberger is on the road. Just this year Big Ben saw significant drops in his completion percentage, yards per game and QB rating. His TD-Int ratio on the road is 9-8 compared to 20-5 at home.
But as Ben Cummins (@BenCumminsFF) mentioned on our pod this year, Bell isn’t hurt when the Steelers are on the road. He sees a decline in his receiving numbers but he averages more rushing yards on the road. His DK points per game go from 28.8 to 28.2 when he’s on the road. Just pay up for this guy in a game where I don’t see many points being scored anyway. I do expect many people when faced with the decision on running backs this week to pay down to get Elliott or pay up for both Bell and Elliott then pay down on Wide Receiver. The way you get contrarian with Bell in your lineups is playing just him in this game and not paying for Blount or Elliott as your RB2.
Deep Contrarian Play(s):
Big Ben + Antonio Brown ($16,400)
Everyone is off this stack this week. To start the week I was, too, but I am on the Steelers bandwagon and I did pick them to make the Super Bowl for the AFC. If that happens, the Steelers are going to have to win road playoff games and I knew that going into making that pick because I didn’t predict them to have the best record. All we’ve heard is how bad Ben’s home/road splits are, how good Andy Reid is off the bye, etc. Two facts stick out to me, though:
- Andy Reid is 1-2 in the playoffs. He’s 11-11 in his career. AND the last time his team had a bye in the playoffs and won in the divisional round? 2004. Not impressed.
- Big Ben in road playoff games: 4-2 record with those two losses coming to Denver. He hasn’t thrown for multiple scores in a road playoff game but he has 280 yards and one TD in two of his last three games in the playoffs.
- Big Ben vs. Andy Reid history (including this season’s match-up): Five games, 4-1 record, 1,054 yards, 9 TDs
Ben is on no one’s radar, but if he is able to hit 300 yards (gives a 3-point bonus on DK) and get two touchdowns that would be enough to put you in a great spot in tournaments. Now the guy I want to play with Ben if I’m playing him is Antonio Brown. The last time these two teams faced Brown got loose for two touchdowns on four catches for 22 DK points. Brown has 21 catches and 3 touchdowns on 341 yards in four career games versus KC. On a short slate, this is a contrarian stack I will consider on a few teams for the sole upside it offers if it hits.
Note: This game has already been moved to 8:20ET on Sunday due to weather concerns. The weather does concern me for the passing game but if this game is on, this just makes this stack even more low-owned.
Tyreek Hill ($5500) – Great pairing with Kansas City defense. Could possibly take carries away from Spencer Ware who has disappointed in good match-ups before. Dynamic playmaker with one of the highest chances to score for KC in this game, in my opinion.
Green Bay Packers vs. Dallas Cowboys
GB Implied Total: 24
DAL Implied Total: 28
Dak Prescott ($6000)
Dak Prescott is the nuts play at the Quarterback position for me and here’s why:
- The late game/Low Ownership – Last week we saw one of the best quarterbacks ever to suit up see just over a fourth of the ownership on the slate with two of the quarterbacks being Connor Cook and Brok Osweiler. This week we have future hall-of-famers in Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. The league MVP in Matt Ryan. Proven Super Bowl winner in Russell Wilson. The slate with littered with great quarterbacks and ownership on Dak will be ridiculously low owned for the upside this guy can provide.
- Major Upside – speaking of upside, Dak has all of it because of his ability to rush the football. In home games, Dak has 200 of his 282 rushing yards and a 5-1 rushing touchdown advantage at home. When you factor in he has the ability to sit back in the pocket and beat teams through the air, too, I think Dak at his price makes a ton of sense in what is projected to be the highest scoring game on the weekend.
- Red Zone usage – I mentioned of the TFA Pod this week when we think of the Cowboys in the red zone we automatically think Ezekiel Elliott. In reality, Dak has been more productive in the red zone than Zeke due to the fact of how much Dallas throws when they get in the RZ area. Dak had 66 passing attempts in the RZ compared to Zeke’s 36 rushes. Now when he factor the percentage of touchdowns scored, Dallas was barely more successful running with Zeke (31%) than passing with Dak (30.3%). Oh, and Dak scored on 5-8 rushes in the red zone, giving him 25 total scores inside the 20 compared to 11 for Zeke.
Dez Bryant ($6600)
It really is criminal that Dez is under $7k on Draftkings when you consider how bad this Packers passing defense has been. They’re allowing the most passing yards per game and the second-most DK points to WRs (43.3). What is not to like here? Then when you look further into his match-up he’s right now projected to be guarded by Ladarius Gunter. Sure, Gunter finished the regular season on a strong note and held OBJ to a humbling line (OBJ dropped 2 passes, one in the end zone), but the last time these two teams faced Cole Beasley, Brice Butler, and Terrance Williams burned him. They’re nowhere near the receiver Dez is and he’s been so hot right now. He has 27-417-5 on 44 targets since Week 8.
Let’s not forget the narrative here. The last two times these teams faced in the playoffs Dez had a huge 31-yard catch called back in our annual “what you think is a catch is actually not a catch” from the NFL. That cost the Cowboys the game. When asked about this week Dez said, “Of course it was a catch, but I’ve moved on…there’s no added motivation.” I buy it a little bit because they play was on Sam Shields in Lambeau and now Shields isn’t on the team and the game is in Dallas, but I’m sure it still stings and with this being only Dez’s second time in the postseason I expect big things from him.
Jared Cook ($3900)
If there is one guy you can talk me into playing in this game from the Green Bay side, it’s Jared Cook and it really isn’t close. Cook is going to be a lock on my Dak-Dez teams to run it back in this game. Cook has been a target monster since the week 15 game in Chicago seeing less than eight targets only once in that time span. The Cowboys have given up 17.3 DK points to the Tight End position this year and that comes at no surprise when you look at their past couple of games:
Philadelphia Tight Ends: 19-187-2
Tampa Bay TEs: 6-80-1
Detroit TEs: 9-101
Washington TEs: 16-167-2
These are numbers that simply cannot be ignored when you’re looking at the Tight End position this weekend. You get an inexpensive option in a high-scoring game who has a floor right now of 2x his price tag. Cook gets me all the exposure to Rodgers I feel I need if the other plays I’m on in earlier games go accordingly.
Deep Contrarian Play(s):
Terrance Williams ($3100)
If I’m all in on Dez, I want as much exposure to the passing game as possible. Terrance Williams is way too cheap this weekend. I don’t want to say he’s a free square, but he’s a must play on all teams I’m playing Dak on. Over the past four weeks, he’s only seen two fewer targets than Cole Beasley. He has double-digit DK points in three of his last four games. The last time these two teams faced (albeit without Dez) he had four catches for 75 yards. I love targeting this depleted Packers defense and his price just makes no sense for the upside he can provide your teams.
Ty Montgomery ($53000) – Without Jordy I expect his usage to go way up as a pass catcher in this offense. Had 10 catches for 98 yards last time these two teams faced and had his most productive game as a receiver last week when Jordy exited the game. Great flex play.
Jason Witten ($3500) – Contrarian Tight End in a favorable match-up. Narrative: he hasn’t caught a postseason TD in his career