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Daily Fantasy Lineup: Conference Championships

Aaron Rodgers

The Divisional Round of the playoffs offered two lopsided games on Saturday and two nail-biters on Sunday, including one all-time classic as Aaron Rodgers out dueled Dallas’ impressive rookie combo.

The Conference Championship games have the potential to be two more thrillers. The early game sees the scorching hot Rodgers take his talents into Atlanta to try to match the firepower of Matt Ryan and the NFL’s best offense. The late game sees another epic QB battle as the Pittsburgh Steelers visit the New England Patriots. While Rodgers and Ryan are playing the position the best at the moment, Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady have six Super Bowl rings between them. That should be promotion enough for the AFC tilt.

With the Seahawks offense falling on its face last week in Atlanta, my fantasy chances stumbled as well. Russell Wilson and Thomas Rawls did next to nothing. Meanwhile, Jared Cook decided to live up to his playmaking potential, making my pick of Martellus Bennett look terrible. Cook’s upside makes him a solid option again for daily this weekend, but be warned, season-long owners know how big a heartbreaker he can be.

The rest of my ticket didn’t fare too badly; alas, it wasn’t good enough.

A lot of people use daily fantasy to spice up otherwise unappealing games and weekends. The Conference Championships don’t need any extra incentive to watch. But if you’re like me, you still have the general-manager itch. Here’s the lineup I’m fielding.

I made my picks based on DraftKings scoring and pricing. Lineups consist of 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex, 1 DST. Managers have $50,000 to spend on the nine roster spots. Whatever sit you use, be sure you know all the ins and outs of the roster structure and scoring system.


DraftKings Daily Lineup

Pos – Player/Team – Opponent Salary

QB – M. Ryan/ATL –  GB $7,700

RB1 – D. Freeman/ATL – GB $7,200

RB2 – D. Lewis/NE – PIT $5,300

WR1 – A. Brown/PIT – @NE $8,800

WR2 – R. Cobb/GB – @ATL $5,900

WR3 – T. Gabriel/ATL –  GB $4,900

TE – J. James/PIT – @NE $2,700

Flex – T. Coleman/ATL – GB $4,800

DST – Atlanta Falcons – GB $2,200

TOTAL                            $49,500

With an extra $500 to spend at the end of the day, I thought long and hard about taking Aaron Rodgers over Matt Ryan; the difference in price between the two is exactly $500. However, the Packer receiving corps is ailing so the scales were tipped in favor of the quarterback who leads the NFL’s highest scoring offense. Even with Ryan’s top target, Julio Jones, being hampered by his own foot ailment, the Falcon offense boasts enough talent to make Ryan the top QB for the week.

Out of the two games this week, the Packers/Falcons matchup has better potential for higher fantasy output for obvious reasons. (Just look at the O/U in Vegas, a ludicrous 61 points.) I like the Falcons for the win and centered my ticket around that premise. Atlanta has two running backs capable of putting up strong performances in the same week, which was proven once again in the Divisional Round as both Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman rewarded owners with good return on investment. This week should be no different as the Packers’ 31st-ranked pass defense stumbles around trying to cover Julio and company leaving plenty of space for the Falcon backs to do some damage out of the backfield. The modest pricing for Tevin Coleman made him a must-own for me as his big-play potential (in both the run and pass game) should provide owners with good return.

Rounding out my Atlanta Falcon selections is Taylor Gabriel. Sure Mohamed Sanu scored a TD last week and had the better fantasy day, but that just means, at a similar price to Gabriel, he will be more higher owed. Call it recency bias. Sanu plays more snaps, but Gabriel made more plays down the stretch and has bigger play potential, evidenced by his 16.5 yards per catch compared to Sanu’s 11.1.

My highest priced player this week, Antonio Brown, has some making up to do with his coaches and teammates after breaking a sacred locker room rule. I expect Brown will be at his best Sunday in an effort to make amends. The Steelers other receivers gone MIA lately, meaning the pressure will be on Brown and fellow video participant Le’Veon Bell to carry the team once again. The Pats are known for taking away the other team’s best weapons, but when these teams met in Week 7, Brown reeled in seven catches for 106 yards, and that was with Landry Jones throwing the ball.

After Brown and Bell, Roethlisberger’s next best option might be unheralded tight end Jesse James. In the absence of Ladarius Green (concussion), the Penn State product caught five balls for 83 yards in the Divisional Round. Keep an eye on Green’s status leading up to the game; he has a chance to play, which would hurt James’ stock. But at this point in the week, Jones’s price tag is a bargain for his potential.

Dion Lewis provides a solid floor for an RB2 in this PPR scoring format. He also has tremendous upside since he is capable of doing damage as a runner, receiver, and returner. He proved that with a game for the record books last week, scoring a TD in all three ways. Lewis has out snapped teammate LeGarrette Blount three out of the last four weeks and the trend should continue as Lewis continues to showcase his game-changing potential. Unfortunately, it’s starting to show in the price as he is $900 more than Blount this week.

For my WR2, I’m going back to the potential high-scoring Packers/Falcons game. As previously mentioned, the Packer receivers are a wounded unit, so I look to the healthiest of the bunch, Randall Cobb. With Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, and Geronimo Allison all listed as questionable, Cobb should be a very busy man on Sunday. At $5,900, he is a steal. The downside is that a lot of people will recognize that and he’ll be highly owned.

With most of my money spent, I couldn’t afford the Patriot defense. I decided the best way to win millions is by riding the Falcon wagon. No, I don’t really think the Falcons have a good chance to stop Aaron Rodgers, but I don’t like the chances of the Packers stopping Matt Ryan or the Steelers stopping Tom Brady either. I’ll hope a hot Vic Beasley and company can put some pressure on the magical Aaron Rodgers and make a few big plays. Atlanta’s defense bleeds yards, but it actually tied for the league lead in defensive touchdowns this year.

And there you have it. My one-shot attempt at a winning DraftKings lineup for the Conference Championship. Fingers crossed and enjoy the show!

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Fantasy

Daily Fantasy Lineup: Divisional Round

CowboysZekeDak

Well Wild Card Weekend turned out to be Mild Card Weekend with the smallest margin of victory being 13 points (Houston Texans over the Oakland Raiders) in a game that wasn’t as close as the score suggests. The Divisional Round should see those same Texans on the other end of a lopsided score as they head to New England. But the rest of the week’s slate promises much better. The other three games look hyper competitive, on paper, and have the potential to be all-time classics.

Last week, I decided to bet with Le’Veon Bell rather than against him and the move paid off as he was the highest scoring running back for the week. However, my ticket hit the skids thanks to a pair of Lions wide receivers. Detroit couldn’t muster anything against a tough Seahawk defense. Also the party boat receivers did nothing to help my pick of Eli Manning at QB.

Alas, the Divisional Round offers a shot at redemption. Below, I present to you my DraftKings lineup for this weekend and my rationale. Reminder: point per reception scoring is in effect. Lineups consist of 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex, 1 DST. Players have $50,000 to spend on nine roster spots.


DraftKings Daily Lineup

Pos Player/Team Opponent Salary

QB – R. Wilson/SEA @ATL $6,900

RB1 – E. Elliott/DAL  GB $8,500

RB2 – T. Rawls/SEA @ATL $6,900

WR1 – R. Cobb/GB @DAL $5,700

WR2 – T. Gabriel/ATL  SEA $4,400

WR3 – T. Williams/DAL  GB $3,100

TE – M. Bennett/NE  HOU $4,000

Flex – D. Freeman/ATL  SEA $5,900

DST – Patriots $4,000

Total                            $49,400

The Divisional Round will answer a much-discussed question: how will Dallas’ star rookie duo perform under the pressure of the NFL playoffs? After from the comforts of home last weekend, the Cowboys should be ready to roll this week. I’m not willing to back Dak Prescott just yet, however, Ezekiel Elliott is a different story. Coming off a monster rookie campaign (322 carries, 1,631 yards, 15 touchdowns), Elliott hasn’t played many meaningful snaps over the last month. (The Cowboys had the luxury of getting some rest for their starters.) Yet he still managed to log 354 touches on the year and we know the Cowboys are not afraid to ride him for an entire game. (He had 20-plus touches 12 times this year.) Having young, fresh legs, an o-line that hasn’t allowed him to be hit for a loss all year at home, and a matchup with an overrated Green Bay run defense has me all-in on Dallas’ rookie rusher this week.

Even receivers broke the century mark last weekend (versus only two running backs), I can’t get away from my RB-heavy ways. Thomas Rawls had an injury plagued year and suffered from ineffective line play when he did manage to get out on the field. Then the playoffs started. Sure it was only one week, and it was against Detroit, but Rawls’ 161 rush yards was second only to Bell. This is a Seahawk team that is used to imposing its will on opponents come playoff time. They’ll want to ride Rawls in order to keep Atlanta’s potent offense off the field. The Falcons’ 17th ranked run defense won’t hold up if Rawls gets another 25-plus carries.

I needed to start saving some money after a hefty spending spree on my top two rushers. Rawls’ teammate Russell Wilson offers solid value at QB this week. His $6,900 salary saves you $1,300 over the highest priced QB, Aaron Rodgers. He’s the fourth-most expensive QB on the week but may have the highest upside. He’s facing an Atlanta team that surrenders 25.4 points a game and is ranked 25th in overall defense, and he may find himself trying to keep up in a veritable with the high-scoring Falcons.

At $5,900, the price was right to add a 15-touch player in as my flex starter. Devonta Freeman may be in tough against a strong Seahawk defense but, unlike Seattle’s Wild Card opponent Detroit, the Falcons offer a much more diverse and potent attack. With the likes of Julio Jones, Tevin Coleman, and Taylor Gabriel on offense, teams can’t just key in on Freeman, which allowed him to find the end zone 13 times this year. His ownership should be down this week because of Seattle’s reputation on defense. Given Atlanta’s versatility on offense and Freeman’s nose for the end zone, I see value in him.

With the majority of my funds spent, I finally turned to the ever unpredictable wide receiver position. With top-tier option Jordy Nelson likely out for Green Bay, I’m jumping all over last week’s leading fantasy performer, Randall Cobb, at $5,700. Cobb’s season was, once again, full of nagging injuries and disappointment, but he sure looked good to go last week, submitting a 5-116-3 line. Cobb is sure to be highly owned at that price but, with Nelson at least limited, Cobb should see an increase from last week’s seven targets.

Forced to go bargain hunting to round out my receiver position, I went with two receivers who are fairly hot entering the postseason. Both Taylor Gabriel ($4,400) and Terrance Williams ($3,100) are on decent scoring runs during the last half of the season. I won’t say they aren’t dart-throws, but with Gabriel reeling in six touchdowns over his last eight games and Williams reeling in three over his last six, both are performing during crunch-time for their respective teams and should find roles this weekend.

Martellus Bennett nursed himself through injuries much of the season after a hot start. He has now been declared fully healthy as the Patriots removed him from the injury report. If Bennett is fully healthy, he is undervalued at $4,000; even with nagging injuries, he managed to score in three out of the Pats’ last four games. Like Cobb, Jared Cook offers good value at a similar price to Bennett thanks to Nelson’s injury. However, the upside Bennett possesses far exceeds that of the Packer tight end.

Every dog has their day and last week Brock Osweiler had his against a weak Raiders defense. His day is over and so is the Texans’ season. I will take the Patriot defense for $4,000 and enjoy the picks as Brock chucks it up aimlessly while playing from behind.

And there you have it! My one-shot attempt at a winning DraftKings lineup. Hopefully the Divisional round brings better fortune … and much better football!

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FantasyRankings

Daily Fantasy Plays: Wild Card Weekend

NYGManningTl

Wild Card Weekend and what to do? Arguably, three of the four games on tap belong on an “Undesirables” poster. Do you need a way to spice up an otherwise unwatchable Houston/Oakland game? Solution! Play daily fantasy! Whether you are a first-time, small-stakes player or an experienced high-roller, you will find a contest to suit your needs.

Heading into the weekend, Oakland, Houston, and Miami are all starting QBs whom they would rather see on the bench. With the dearth of talent at quarterback, offense will be at a premium, and you can bet tickets will be filled with Pittsburgh Steelers as they look to have drawn the match-up of the week.

Daily fantasy players will pay dearly for the likes of Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, forcing them to sacrifice elsewhere on the roster.

Is that the best play, nonetheless? Time will tell, definitively, but here’s how I’m setting my DraftKings lineup for Wild Card Weekend. (Point per reception scoring is in effect. Lineups consist of 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex, 1 DST. You have $50,000 to spend on those nine roster spots.)

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Fantasy

An Explicit Seven Fantasy Tips for Week 17

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Chances are your fantasy league has concluded. But maybe you play in one of those weird leagues that holds its championship on a week where half the stars won’t even be playing; or perhaps you just want to wash the awful taste of defeat from your mouth by getting in on some daily fantasy action. Whatever your reasoning may be, you want fantasy advice for Week 17.

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FantasyRankings

Top 50 Flex Rankings: Week 17

packersnelsontl

Welcome to FY’s top-50 flex plays for the week (standard scoring). Rankings represent the order I would be most comfortable inserting each player into my lineup; tiers further separate our fantasy assets to help establish the probability of fantasy dominance. Keep player availability in mind as the week progresses. Below, you will only find players I feel have a good chance to play this week.


Week 17 is upon us. Most of us watched another chance at a season-long league championship slip by us in the last few weeks. If you’re one of the lucky few that captured a fantasy title, then I offer my congratulations! If you’re one of the outliers who plays in a 17-week league, then I offer you this paraphrase of Voltaire/Evelyn Beatrice Hall: I disapprove of how you play, but I will rank to the death your options for playing it.

Beyond season-long leagues, daily fantasy games are still on the docket for Week 17. Now is the perfect time to give those a go. With teams sitting starters and limiting reps, and players nursing injuries, we’re going to see a lot of guys in unfamiliar roles. That makes the coming week arguably the most unpredictable of the year. The randomness in fantasy scoring will turn the daily fantasy scene into Friday night at the local Bingo hall, giving less experienced players a little better shot.

Whether you are into daily fantasy or are in one of those absurd 17-week leagues, let me try to make some sense of the chaos that promises to be Week 17.


Top 50 Flex Players Week 17

Tier 1

Player/Team Position (Rank) Opponent

1. D. Johnson/ARI RB(1) @LA

With different situations impacting many fantasy stars, David Johnson is the lone inhabitant of Tier 1. With 20 total touchdowns and over 2,000 yards from scrimmage, he’s the top non-QB on the year and has a 30-point lead over second-place Ezekiel Elliott. DJ should finish the season strong as he looks to put the finishing touches on an epic fantasy year. The Cardinals are out of the playoffs and have no real reason to underwork their bellcow.

Tier 2

2. J. Nelson/GB WR(1) @DET

3. M. Evans/TB WR(2) CAR

4. J. Jones/ATL WR(3) NO

5. T. Hilton/IND WR(4) JAX

Trust is the name of the game this week. Jordy Nelson visits division rival Detroit  in a game that just happens to be for the NFC North title. Jordy has been on a tear the last four weeks with five TDs and 437 yards. With the division title on the line, the run should continue.

Tampa Bay still has a shot at the playoffs but needs some help. Mike Evans enters the week as the third-ranked receiver in standard scoring even though he hasn’t cracked 100 yards since week 12. He has over 1,200 yards and 11 TDs on the year.

Julio Jones played just over 60-percent of the Falcons’ offensive snaps last week. He only managed four catches for 60 yards, but more importantly, he finished the game unscathed. With a first-round bye on the line, and possibly a receiving yardage crown as well, I expect Julio’s playing time and production to see an uptick this week.

The Colts’ season is done, but T.Y. Hilton has a receiving yardage lead to hold onto. You can bet Hilton and QB Andrew Luck are aware of that.

Tier 3

6. L. McCoy/BUF RB(2) @NYJ

7. D. Murray/TEN RB(3) HOU

8. J. Howard/CHI RB(4) @MIN

9. D. Freeman/ATL RB(5) NO

10. B. Cooks/NO WR(5) @ATL

11. M. Thomas/NO WR(6) @ATL

12. D. Baldwin/SEA WR(7) @SF

At this point, the Bills have nothing but pride to play for. After firing head coach Rex Ryan, the reins get turned over to former OC Anthony Lynn. Lynn, who’s rumored to have a great shot at winning the gig for next year, will be looking to show the powers-that-be that he is capable of running the show. If he wants to put his best foot forward, LeSean McCoy will be busy. Shady is easily the Bills’ best foot on offense. With EJ Manuel slated to start at QB, Lynn has all the more reason to go run-heavy.

DeMarco Murray should finish a stellar season strong. He has lost some red zone carries to teammate Derrick Henry the last few weeks, but with starting quarterback Marcus Mariota out with a broken leg, look for the league’s third-best rushing attack to be heavily utilized.

Jordan Howard continues his run up 2017 draft boards. He’s posted five straight weeks of over 100 yards from scrimmage and is as trustworthy as any, even on a three-win team.

As mentioned, Atlanta has a first-round bye on the line this week, meaning Devonta Freeman should continue to be busy as long as the score doesn’t get out of hand. Thankfully, the Falcons play the Saints, who can put up points and should be able to keep the outcome in doubt for all four quarters.

Speaking of the Saint/Falcon match-up, I expect that Drew Brees will be chucking the rock all over the field in an attempt to play spoiler against his longtime rivals. Brandin Cooks and Michael Thomas should benefit as Brees carves up a brutal Falcon pass defense (26th).

Seattle needs to win to have any hope at a first-round bye. Doug Baldwin has scored a touchdown the last two weeks and should see that streak continue against the league’s worst defense.

Tier 4

13. J. Edelman/NE WR(8) @MIA

14. G. Tate/DET WR(9) GB

15. A. Jeffery/CHI WR(10) @MIN

16. D. Hopkins/HOU WR(11) @TEN

17. A. Robinson/JAX WR(12) @IND

18. D. Adams/GB WR(13) @DET

19. L. Blount/NE RB(6) @MIA

20. L. Murray/OAK RB(7) @DEN

21. M. Ingram/NO RB(8) @ATL

22. S. Ware/KC RB(9) @SD

23. T. Montgomery/GB RB(10) @DET

24. J. Ajayi/MIA RB(11) NE

25. R. Kelley/WAS RB(12) NYG

26. B. Powell/JETS RB(13) BUF

27. J. Stewart/CAR RB(14) @TB

28. T. Gurley/LA RB(15) ARI

The uncertainty is growing. Julian Edelman is Tom Brady’s favorite target with Gronk done, but with the Raiders (the only team that can catch New England for first in the AFC) losing Derek Carr, the Pats may feel inclined to rest some starters. The importance of the no. 1 seed was drastically reduced with Carr going down. Bill Belichick won’t fear facing a Matt McGloin-led Oakland team, regardless of location.

With his team in a match-up for the division title, Golden Tate will be busy against Green Bay’s 29th-ranked pass defense. Tate has had a great second half of the season, putting up 54 catches his last eight games. He gets a boost in any PPR leagues/formats.

Alshon Jeffery is playing for a contract. He has an 11-181-1 line in two games with quarterback Matt Barkley. Barkley may not know which team he is throwing to, but he offers lots of opportunity for big plays and Jeffery will continue to take advantage.

Okay, so clearly Houston QB Tom Savage wasn’t as ready for the starting role as I hoped. After a horrible first half against Cincinnati, the Texan offense showed a bit of life in the second half with another come from behind win. DeAndre Hopkins finished his day with three catches for 43 yards on six targets. Even though the Texans have the division locked up, the chemistry between the QB and his no. 1 target needs work before the playoffs.

I’m not sure what interim head coach Doug Marrone said to the Jaguar players last week, but whatever it was, it worked. Allen Robinson benefited from the Jags’ new-found competence and finished the week with 147 yards receiving. Does the competence continue against the 24th-ranked Indy pass defense?

Davante Adams’ last seven weeks have been the epitome of boom or bust with four games over 10 points and three games under four points. I don’t trust him, but with the Packers in a title match-up and the uncertainty that surrounds Week 17, Adams is more playable than most weeks.

LeGarrette Blount keeps scoring touchdowns. The Patriots are playing for something this week (kind of). Even if he sits, he’ll probably still find a way to add to his league-leading 17 rushing touchdowns.

The Oakland Raiders received a lump of coal for Christmas and now Matt McGloin is taking over starting quarterback duties. In a game the Raiders desperately need to win, expect McGloin to get a lot of practice handing the ball off to Latavius Murray.

Mark Ingram is New Orleans’ best running back and is capable of busting big plays. The Saints will be looking to upset rival Atlanta, which owns the 23rd-ranked defense. Ingram should have an impactful day after going for over 100 total yards and a TD in these teams’ first meeting of the year.

Spencer Ware is 79 yards short of his first 1,000-yard rushing season. The Chiefs draw the oh-so-sad San Diego Chargers who just awarded the Cleveland Browns their first win. With the Chargers in such a giving mood this holiday season, Ware is next in line to receive a gift in a game the Chiefs need to win.

Ty Montgomery is a tough call. Two weeks ago, he looked like a star. Last week, he received nine carries. With the Pack in a meaningful game, Montgomery is more attractive this week than most.

In Week 16, Jay Ajayi hit Buffalo for 200 rushing yards for the second time this year. But he may see a reduction in snaps this week as the Dolphins have a playoff spot locked up and may want to keep Ajayi fresh.

The team with the offensive nickname that resides in Washington still has a chance to sneak into the playoffs, which keeps Rob Kelley an intriguing option. Facing a New York Giant team expected to rest starters, Washington’s offense may be in for a prolific day.

With backfield mates Matt Forte and Khiry Robinson out, Bilal Powell is the last man standing at running back in what has been a lost season for the Jets. Powell has the ability to pile up yardage and against the same Bills team Ajayi just steam rolled.

The defending NFC champion Panthers will not have a chance to defend their crown. In a meaningless game, they may be wise to sit their oft-injured franchise players. The unpredictability of Carolina’s game-plan keeps Stewart low in the ranks this week.

I ranked Todd Gurley RB(8) last week because he had the softest possible match-up (49ers). Shame on me. He did finish 15th among running backs, but the inability of the Rams offense to do anything was on full display in a loss to the worst defense in football. The only reason Gurley remains this high is potential usage in an offense with no passing game.

Tier 5

29. T. Kelce/KC TE(1) @SD

30. D. McFadden/DAL RB(16) @PHI

31. A. Blue/HOU RB(17) @TEN

32. D. Williams/PIT RB(18) CLE

33. A. Collins/SEA RB(19) @SF

34. T. Coleman/ATL RB(20) NO

35. J. Hill/CIN BAL RB(21) BAL

36. F. Gore/IND RB(22) JAX

37. K. Dixon/BAL RB(23) @CIN

38. D. Lewis/NE RB(24) @MIA

39. S. Smith/BAL WR(14) @CIN

40. S. Watkins/BUF WR(15) @NYJ

41. J.J. Nelson/ARI WR(16) @LA

42. A. Thielen/MIN WR(17) CHI

43. D. Inman/SD WR(18) KC

44. T. Williams/SD WR(19) KC

45. L. Fitzgerald/ARI WR(20) @LA

46. T. Hill/KC WR(21) @SD

47. E. Sanders/DEN WR(22) OAK

48. D. Thomas/DEN WR(23) OAK

49. J. Landry/MIA WR(24) NE

50. D. Parker/MIA WR(25) NE

And Bingo begins. With the unpredictability Week 17 brings, Tier 5 could easily be 20 players longer. Even teams with nothing to play for could choose to sit franchise players for fear of injury. Week 17 offers very little predictability. For Tier 5, I offer this: each player in the NFL has enough talent that it could be his day and, in Week 17, the sun will shine on players who have had minimal relevance up to this point. Get in on the exciting Bingo action by building your team with players in good situations.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the Bingo hall that promises to be Week 17.

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Fantasy

A Definite Seven Fantasy Tips for Week 16

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Last week’s advice was a real mixed bag. There were some gems among the group, but also a DeForest Buckner-sized handful of busts. We can just tack that up to being a week in fantasy football, but I refuse. You deserve better, and I’m very bitter about losing my semifinals by two points.

Hopefully you were able to sieve out the Bradys while cashing in on the Gabriels, and have the opportunity to play for your fantasy championship. If you want to review last week in its entirety, see here. Below is a quick version. I hit big on…

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FantasyRankings

Top 50 Flex Rankings: Week 16

packersmontytl

Welcome to FY’s top-50 flex plays for the week (standard scoring). Rankings represent the order I would be most comfortable inserting each player into my lineup; tiers further separate our fantasy assets to help establish the probability of fantasy dominance. Keep player availability in mind as the week progresses. Below, you will only find players I feel have a good chance to play this week.


Championship week is here! Congratulations to all the season-long finalists! After a chaotic Week 15 with some unbelievable finishes, Week 16 will again see games on four separate days. The majority will be played on Saturday (Dec. 24) so check those line ups Friday night well before the rum and eggnog starts to flow.

Week 15 deviated from the status quo to some extent; a wide receiver (Brandin Cooks) tied a running back (Devonta Freeman) for top honors with 30 points a piece.To put some perspective on the significance of a 30 burger, only seven non-quarterbacks had more than 20 points this week. If you had either in your line up, you are more then likely in your league’s finals.

There was also more of the same in Week 15, though, as running backs dominated the top 10, taking eight of the spots. Fantasy disappointment Tyler Lockett was the only other receiver besides Cooks to break into the top 10.

Week 16 could see a few other fantasy disappointments finish among the leaders. A soft match-up could help Todd Gurley remind owners why everyone was so high on him, while DeAndre Hopkins is breathing new life (17 targets in Week 15) thanks to the Texans finally benching Brock Osweiler. At the end of the day, the team with the best running backs will win the majority of the championships, but either of those former fantasy stars could pay big dividends in the finals.

Good luck with the chaotic mess ahead this weekend. Let’s get to the good stuff.


Top 50 Flex Players Week 16

Tier 1

Player/Team Position (Rank) Opponent

1. L. Bell/PIT RB(1) BAL

2. E. Elliott/DAL RB(2) DET

3. D. Johnson/ARI RB(3) @SEA

4. A. Brown/PIT WR(1) BAL

Not much changes among the elite. Some may question Le’Veon Bell in the number one position in a terrible match-up with the vaunted Ravens defense. But the elite players in fantasy are match-up proof; Lev in-particular can dominate the game on the ground or catching balls out of the backfield … or lining up as a receiver. The Steelers offense is operating at a higher level right now than both the Cowboys and Cardinals (neither of whom have soft match-ups, themselves). The Pittsburgh/Baltimore game will likely decide the AFC North and, in such an important game, the Steelers will feed their “Bell-cow.” He may or may not finish with the most points this week, but I love the potential 30 touches brings.

Tier 2

5. L. McCoy/BUF RB(4) MIA

6. D. Murray/TEN RB(5) @JAX

7. J. Howard/CHI RB(6) WAS

8. O. Beckham/GIA WR(2) @PHI

9. M. Evans/TB WR(3) @NO

10. J. Jones/ATL WR(4) @CAR

11. T. Hilton/IND WR(5) @OAK

Jordan Howard’s consistent production has made him a solid RB1. In his last seven games, Howard has been held under 100 yards from scrimmage only once. He had 99. Given his consistency, touchdown upside (seven total TDs), and great match-up against the 23rd-rated Washington run defense, expect Howard to be a part of many championship teams.

Mike Evans has slowed down the last three weeks, averaging about 46 yards a game. With the Bucs clinging to the playoff ledge, it’s time to see what these kids in Tampa are made of. In a rematch from Week 14, which saw the Bucs squeak out a 16-11 win on a gutsy defensive effort, I’m expecting the offense to return the favor against the Saints in the Superdome. Evans should produce much better than the 4-46-0 line he put up in the teams’ first meeting.

T.Y. Hilton burned owners last week with his 3-45-0 performance against the Vikings, despite his Colts putting up 34 points. After minimal usage, Hilton will be ready to eat up the 30th-ranked Raiders defense.

Tier 3

12. L. Murray/OAK RB(7) IND

13. T. Gurley/LA RB(8) SF

14. S. Ware/KC RB(9) DEN

15. D. Martin/TB RB(10) @NO

16. J. Nelson/GB WR(6) MIN

17. D. Bryant/DAL WR(7) DET

18. A. Green/CIN WR(8) @HOU

19. A. Cooper/OAK WR(9) IND

Todd Gurley is the first former fantasy star to appear on my list. Gurley has had a bum year. Back-end RB2 numbers are not acceptable from a player who was going as high as first-overall in fantasy drafts. If you’re a Gurley owner and you have made it this far, give yourself a pat on the back because the rest of your draft must have been amazing. And now you might get a little early Christmas present with the Rams facing the Niners. Gurley said last week that LA had a junior-high offense. The LA/SF match-up could be an intrasquad game, in that case, since the Niners boast a JV defense (last in the league in both yards and scoring). With the high-school sweethearts uniting, Gurley will be king of the prom.

After accumulating 105 total yards on 21 touches in Week 15, Spencer Ware has now posted 16-plus touches in five straight. He faces a Denver team that ranks 29th stopping the run. The last time they faced off (November 27th) Ware had 96 total yards from scrimmage. He provides a safe floor play this week with upside to finish as a top-five RB if he can find pay-dirt.

A.J. Green was not ready to go last week and I have to wonder if the Bengals would rather just sit their superstar for the remainder of a lost season. A.J. is just 36 yards shy of his sixth straight 1000-yard season, though, and wants to play. He would be just the second receiver to ever accomplish the feat (Randy Moss). His upside is undeniable, even in a tough match-up with Houston’s second-ranked pass defense. If you own him, you have to play him if he’s in the Cincy lineup.

Tier 4

20. C. Hyde/SF RB(11) @LA

21. L. Miller/HOU RB(12) CIN

22. R. Kelley/WAS RB(13) @CHI

23. D. Freeman/ATL RB(14) @CAR

24. L. Blount/NE RB(15) NYJ

25. F. Gore/IND RB(16) @OAK

26. J. Ajayi/MIA RB(17) @BUF

27. T. Rawls/SEA RB(18) @ARI

28. J. Hill/CIN RB(19) @HOU

29. D. Hopkins/HOU WR(10) CIN

30. A. Jeffery/CHI WR(11) WAS

31. B. Cooks/NO WR(12) TB

32. D. Inman/SD WR(13) @CLE

33. M. Thomas/NO WR(14) TB

34. M. Crabtree/OAK WR(15) IND

Robert Kelley is a no-nonsense, straight ahead running back set to face a Chicago defense which let the NFL’s 29th and 30th-ranked rushing attacks hit the century mark in recent weeks. To top it, Chicago gave up a huge day to Packer “running back” Ty Montgomery (a converted receiver) last week (16-162-2). Kelley’s rank is more an indictment of the Bears’ run defense than his talent. Feel comfortable with him in your line up, nonetheless.

After a hot three-game stretch, Jay Ajayi has now gone six weeks without cracking the century mark on the ground. Fortunately for owners, the Dolphins happen to be facing one of the teams Ajayi ate up earlier in the year. The Buffalo Bills got embarrassed by Ajayi the first time around, surrendering 214 yards. I’m sure they will not take him lightly this time around, but will that matter? The Bills rank 27th against the run. In the end, Ajayi’s floor is pretty safe, despite his recent lack of production.

The Texans finally got smart and put Brock Osweilier on the bench last week after his second interception of the day (which briefly gave him the league-lead over Blake Bortles). All backup Tom Savage did was rally the team from 13 points down to a huge victory over Jacksonville, making the Texan offense look like a legitimate NFL unit for the first time all year. As mentioned, Savage went back to Houston’s tried-and-true game plan from last season: throw it to D-Hop (8-87-0 on 17 targets).

Alshon Jeffery is in a somewhat similar situation to Hopkins, now working with third-string quarterback Matt Barkley. Barkley is keeping the Bears competitive and, although he’s turnover prone, he has shown he’s not afraid to air it out with two 300-yard games in his four starts. In his first game with Barkley (after serving a four-game suspension), Jeffrey went for 89 yards and a touch. Given the volatility of the wide receiver position, I feel comfortable betting on him and Hopkins, despite their miserable seasons to-date.

Dontrelle Inman has been held under five catches just once in the last five weeks. Travis Benjamin has only had more than five catches once this year, and Tyrell Williams hasn’t had five catches since he hurt his shoulder four games ago. With the San Diego Chargers heading to Cleveland to face the win-less Browns, I want Philip Rivers’ busiest receiver in my lineup.

Tier 5

35. J. Stewart/CAR RB(20) ATL

36. T. Montgomery/GB RB(21) MIN

37. K. Farrow/SD RB(22) @CLE

38. M. Ingram/NO RB(23) TB

39. A. Peterson/MIN RB(24) @GB

40. D. Lewis/NE RB(25) NYJ

41. T. Kelce/KC TE(1) DEN

42. G. Olsen/CAR TE(2) ATL

43. J. Landry/MIA WR(16) @BUF

44. M. Mitchell/NE WR(17) NYJ

45. T. Hill/KC WR(18) DEN

46. E. Sanders/DEN WR(20) @KC

47. D. Thomas/DEN WR(21) @KC

48. D. Baldwin/SEA WR(22) ARI

49. L. Fitzgerald/ARI WR(23) @SEA

50. T. Williams/SD WR(24) @CLE

After his massive breakout performance last week, is Ty Montgomery suddenly a legit running back? I’m not buying it. This week should prove a little tougher as the Packers play host to division rival Minnesota, which boasts the third-ranked defense. Montgomery is ranked this high only because of his potential upside and the fact that I don’t trust any of the players below him very much.

Kenneth Farrow bombed in his first crack as a starting running back. With teammate Melvin Gordon likely missing another week, Farrow should get a second shot. Facing the second-worst run defense in the league (Cleveland), he is worth a shot if you’re in need of potentially a huge fantasy day. Keep in mind, Farrow also represents the lowest floor of any player making the top 50. Squeeze the ball, kid!

Farrow is joined in the low-floor chamber by another former fantasy star, Adrian Peterson. AP has an enormous ceiling but a very slim chance of reaching it. The Vikings have the worst rushing attack in the NFL; it was awful even when Peterson was healthy. (He hasn’t cleared 31 yards from scrimmage all year.) Even in a tough match-up in Green Bay, Peterson possesses championship-winning upside. It’s just really unlikely he will reach it. Depending on what other options you have, put him in a flex spot and pray.

Yet another season-long disappointment, Jarvis Landry is coming off his highest scoring game of the year (3-108-1). That gives him back to back 100 yard games. With injury replacement Matt Moore playing efficient football last week, hopes are up that Landry can provide owners with a third straight 100-yard performance in the not-so-friendly confines of Orchard Park in December.

I’m going out this year by slamming on a player I love in real-life football. Many “expert” lists have Larry Fitzgerald well inside their top 20 wide receivers. I have some numbers in reply: five, one, seven, five, six.  That’s Fitz’s fantasy output his last five games. With Carson Palmer struggling, Fitzgerald’s upside is limited in a tough match-up with Seattle, and I’m not even sure how safe I feel with his floor.

Merry Christmas to all! Now go win yourself a championship!

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Fantasy

A Precise Seven Fantasy Tips for Week 15

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If you are reading this, then you have made it to the semifinals of your fantasy football league! Hooray! Unless you’re just someone who indulges in weekly pools. Either way, I’ve got what you’re looking for: fantasy advice for the upcoming week.

If you don’t want the quick summary of how my tips did last week, you can judge each one here. But here’s the Coles Notes version from Week 14. I hit big on…

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FantasyRankings

Top 50 Flex Rankings: Week 15

Welcome to FY’s top-50 flex plays for the week. Rankings represent the order I would be most comfortable inserting each player into my lineup; tiers further separate our fantasy assets to help establish the probability of fantasy dominance. Keep player availability in mind as the week progresses. Below, you will only find players I feel have a good chance to play this week.


Semi-finals, one step away from bringing home a glorious, much deserved fantasy championship and, even better, the bragging rights that go along with it. Week 15 is make it or break it for everyone left in season-long leagues. Once again excluding leagues that go to Week 17 because well, they should be excluded.

Week 14 didn’t offer the same surprises as Week 13; Dwayne Allen and Dennis Pitta didn’t steal the spotlight at tight end again (thank God). Instead, the running backs and wide receivers stole the show. RBs accounted for the top-four scorers, but the two positions split the top-ten. As you all know by now, Le’Veon Bell had the performance of the year.

Week 15 should hold status quo with the running backs leading the way. The position may take a bit of a hit as top-five runner Melvin Gordon is unlikely to play (as of now). But even with Gordon, the down the depth of the position remains strong. After the “Big 3” (LeVeon Bell, David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott) there are multiple runners whose sheer volume potential puts them near the top of my list.

Wide receivers dominate the bottom of the top-50; unpredictability and bad quarterback play has made selecting a wide receiver outside the top-ten a complete crapshoot.

I could wax poetic all day about talented wide receivers being non-factors (cough cough DeAndre Hopkins) because teams hand the reins to untested pivots (cough cough Brock Osweiler). But I won’t bore you. Let’s get to the good stuff.


Top 50 Flex Players Week 15

TIER 1

Player/Team Position (Rank) Opponent

1. L. Bell/PIT RB(1) @CIN

2. D. Johnson/ARI RB(2) NO

3. E. Elliott/DAL RB(3) TB

4. A. Brown/PIT WR(1) @CIN

At this point in the season there is no need to be cute. Tier 1 belongs to the elite. Currently there is no one doing it better then these four superstars. Whether you’re riding them into the semis or building your daily lineup, each player has a chance to win you a week. Exhibit A: Bell’s 47 points in the snow in Buffalo last Sunday (298 total yards and three touchdowns). Elite.

Tier 2

5. L. McCoy/BUF RB(4) CLE

6. D. Murray/TEN RB(5) @KC

7. J. Jones/ATL WR(2) SF

8. M. Evans/TB WR(3) @DAL

9. O. Beckham/GIA WR(4) DET

10. A. Green/CIN WR(5) @PIT

11. J. Nelson/GB WR(6) @CHI

The 0-13 Cleveland Browns bring their 31st-ranked run defense into Buffalo. The Bills have the league’s best rushing attack and LeSean McCoy leads the charge. A December game in Buffalo and a favorable matchup have McCoy looking very attractive this week.

It sounds like Julio Jones will once again be a game-time decision (turf toe). Monitor this situation until game time; you don’t want to miss out if he decides to play against the anemic 49ers defense. Just make sure you have an alternate option ready.

A.J. Green’s 964 yards and four touchdowns through ten games had him hanging with the fantasy elite before getting injured. He’s back at practice and may be ready to return against division rival Pittsburgh. The Bengals will need all hands on deck versus the Steelers and their suddenly surging defense. Green has massive upside if he’s healthy.

Tier 3

12. L. Blount/NE RB(6) @DEN

13. J. Howard/CHI RB(7) GB

14. S. Ware/KC RB(8) TEN

15. L. Murray/OAK RB(9) @SD

16. C. Hyde/SF RB(10) @ATL

17. J. Hill/CIN RB(11) PIT

18. L. Miller/HOU RB(12) JAX

19. T. Rawls/SEA RB(13) LA

20. J. Ajayi/MIA RB(14) @JETS

21. D. Martin/TB RB(15) @DAL

22. R. Kelley/WAS RB(16) CAR

23. T.Y. Hilton/INDY WR(7) @MIN

24. D. Bryant/DAL WR(8) TB

25. A. Cooper/OAK WR(9) @SD

Okay, so I can admit defeat. If you have been reading previous weeks you have probably learned I’m not a big fan of LeGarrette Blount. Last week, I ranked him the RB(20) in a horrible matchup with the Ravens’ top-ranked defense. I thought that may even be a little high. Oops. He finished 14th, proving capable even against the toughest defense. Against a much softer Broncos front in Week 15, Blount may visit pay-dirt multiple times and add to his league-leading 14 rushing touchdowns.

Carlos Hyde hasn’t scored a rushing touchdown since Week 4. He has, however, caught two touchdowns over his last three games. Coming off a season-best 193 yards rushing against the Jets, expect the 49ers to continue to ride Hyde against the Atlanta Falcons as he is their only consistent offensive threat.

Thomas Rawls drops from 13th overall to 20th this week, but that’s no fault of his own. He looks great, finishing runs like few others in the league, but an inconsistent Seattle offense has me worried. Seattle hosts division rival Los Angeles on Thursday night. The Rams are reeling and just made a coaching change, but they always play their divisional opponents tough, especially Seattle. While I want to give Rawls more love, the Seattle o-line and the Rams defense both worry me.

Another running back I want to like more is Doug Martin. Last week, he was my RB(7). I felt his usage would finally lead to a big day. What we got was more heavy usage/average results; he finished as the RB13 despite 25 touches. These type of results are becoming par for the course for Martin and should continue this week as the Bucs visit Dallas’ second-rated run defense.

Dez Bryant let owners down in Week 14 as he was out played by Giants corner Janoris Jenkins. The two other times Bryant has had poor outputs this year have been followed up by solid games. I’m expecting more of the same this week as the Cowboy offense looks to right the ship against a Tampa squad that’s been on fire. Bring the big hose, Dak!

TIER 4

26. D. Freeman/ATL RB(17) SF

27. M. Forte/JETS RB(18) MIA

28. J. Stewart/CAR RB(19) @WAS

29. F. Gore/IND RB(20) @MIN

30. T. Gurley/LA RB(21) @SEA

31. S. Watkins/BUF WR(10) CLE

Devonta Freeman killed owners in Week 14 with his Falcons getting out to a big lead early against the over-matched Rams. They face the one-win 49ers at home this week and the game script may turn out similar. With a healthy Tevin Coleman sharing the workload once again, the Falcons backfield has reverted to a coin flip.

I was confident ranking Todd Gurley as my RB(16) last week as I felt the Falcons presented a good opportunity. Gurley capitalized on the matchup to some extent, scoring his fifth rushing touchdown of the year. But this week, he travels to Seattle to face a Seahawks team ready to unleash some frustration. Even with Jeff Fisher finally being let go, the Rams will be hard-pressed to move the ball against the league’s number eight defense.

TIER 5

32. A. Jeffery/CHI WR(11) GB

33. D. Inman/SD WR(12) OAK

34. M. Crabtree/OAK WR(13) @SD

35. B. Cooks/NO WR(14) @ARI

36. J. Edelman/NE WR(15) @DEN

37. J. Crowder/WAS WR(16) CAR

38. M. Thomas/NO WR(17) @ARI

39. T. Hill/KC WR(18) TEN

40. D. Baldwin/SEA WR(19) LA

41. T. Kelce/KC TE(1) TEN

42. J. Reed/WAS TE(2) CAR

43. S. Diggs/MIN WR(20) INDY

44. E. Sanders/DEN WR(21) NE

45. D. Thomas/DEN WR(22) NE

46. G. Tate/DET WR(23) @GIA

47. L. Fitzgerald/ARI WR(24) NO

48. J. Matthews/PHIL WR(25) @BALT

49. I. Crowell/CLE RB(22) @BUF

50. K. Dixon/BALT RB(23) PHIL

Alshon Jeffery returns from a four-game suspension eager to show teams he is worth a fat new contract. Jeffery wasn’t lighting the world up before the suspension, but Matt Barkley has looked serviceable at QB and is in dire need of a receiver who can actually catch a ball.

Dontrelle Inman moves all the way up from WR(19) last week to WR(12) this week. Inman has scored a touchdown in three straight games and, with running back Melvin Gordon potentially missing this week, Inman and the rest of the receivers should be in for lots of work against a 27th-rated Oakland pass defense.

Realized upside wins weeks. Kansas City playmaker Tyreek Hill has upside to the moon and he’s been soaring of late. With multiple touchdowns in two out of his last three games, Hill can and will score from anywhere on the field, be it as a runner, receiver, or return man. With nine total touchdowns on the year, his upside is much higher than most of his Tier 5 cohort.

Travis Kelce enters the top-50 for the first time this year thanks to four straight 100-yard receiving games. The Chiefs’ offense has started to funnel through the talented tight end. Only time will tell if it continues; for now, Kelce looks to be the best option at the beleaguered position.

Stefon Diggs is averaging a solid 78.3 yards per game. He doesn’t offer much touchdown upside with only two scores on the year, however, with games of 182 yards and 164 yards under his belt, his yardage ceiling is as high as any. Against a 26th-ranked Indy pass defense, the Vikings only reliable receiver should be busy.

Just when we all forgot about Isaiah Crowell, he hits the Cincinnati Bengals for 113 yards on just ten carries. With the Browns trying to avoid the embarrassment of an 0-16 season, expect him to get more touches and decent yardage against the Bills, who rank seventh against the pass but 28th against the run.

With no fewer than 77 total yards over his last three games, Kenneth Dixon is becoming a bigger part of the Baltimore offense. He’s the most dynamic back the team has. Even though the Ravens go pass-heavy every week, Dixon should continue to get opportunities as the team tries to keep its playoff hopes alive against a struggling Philadelphia squad. His talent will shine.

Thanks for the read. God luck in your matchups and may the injury bug miss us all!

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Fantasy

A Fixed Seven Fantasy Tips for Week 14

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This whole cutting to the chase thing really worked out last week. Let’s see if I can do it again.

I have to refrain from my usual jab at Mr. Ferris’ fantasy team, since he won this week and it really helped me out. As a thank-you, I’ll give his top-50 flex players of the week two double-jointed thumbs up. (Get it, ’cause they’re flexible?)

In a week where my advice was pretty spot on, here’s where I hit big…

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