Fantasy Football Playoff DFS Advice: Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers lead title chase
The AFC and NFC championship games are highlighted by the quarterbacks, but Jamey Eisenberg breaks down all the positions in daily play for this weekend.
Unless you're a Atlanta Falcons fan, the hope is the Green Bay Packers have a healthy receiving corps for Sunday's NFC Championship Game. We want to see the best talent on the field this weekend.
As of Friday, the Packers head into Atlanta with Jordy Nelson (ribs), Davante Adams (ankle) and Geronimo Allison (hamstring) all considered game-time decisions. Nelson missed the divisional round game at Dallas, and Adams and Allison were injured against the Cowboys.
Not having Nelson, Adams or Allison if they are out might be the only way to slow down Aaron Rodgers , who is the hottest player in the postseason. He leads a quartet of stud quarterbacks this weekend, including Matt Ryan , Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger .
For daily leagues this week, I'm playing all of these quarterbacks except for Roethlisberger, who is the cheapest of the four on FanDuel and DraftKings but also the most risky. His stats on the road are well documented, and he only has two games with more than 20 Fantasy points away from home this season, including last week's playoff victory at Kansas City.
But my lineups will feature Ryan, Rodgers and Brady, and I expect all three to play well, especially Ryan. Like Rodgers, he's also playing at a dominant level coming into this game.
Ryan has scored at least 21.5 Fantasy points in three of his past five games, including two in a row. He just lit up the Seahawks for 338 passing yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in the divisional round, and he had 24.4 Fantasy points against Green Bay in Week 8 with 288 passing yards and three touchdowns.
He's the No. 2 quarterback in terms of price behind Rodgers, who could be limited based on his receiving corps. But it's hard to expect Rodgers to struggle with how he's playing right now even if his top guys could be Randall Cobb , Ty Montgomery , Jared Cook and Jeff Janis .
Rodgers has scored at least 30.4 Fantasy points in three of his past four outings, and his worst game over that stretch was 22.8 points. He has 15 total touchdowns and one interceptions over that span, with at least 300 passing yards in each game. And he had 246 passing yards and four touchdowns at Atlanta in Week 8.
The NFC Championship Game should produce plenty of stats, and Las Vegas projects the total of the game at 61 points, which bodes well for Ryan and Rodgers. And the AFC Championship Game is projected at 50.5 points, but hopefully Brady will help exceed that total.
Pittsburgh is a tough matchup, but Brady had 222 passing yards and two touchdowns at the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 7 when Roethlisberger was out with a knee injury. And in six career games for Brady against Mike Tomlin, he is 5-1 with a 71.2 completion percentage, 315 passing yards per game on average and 19 touchdowns with no interceptions.
Brady is a great option in all daily leagues, and he's cheaper than Ryan and Rodgers. That will make him popular, but he should be worth it based on his track record against Tomlin.
Here's my lineup on FanDuel for the championship games:
- QB: Matt Ryan ($9,200) vs. GB
- RB: Dion Lewis ($7,000) vs. PIT
- RB: Ty Montgomery ($6,900) at ATL
- WR: Antonio Brown ($8,400) at NE
- WR: Julian Edelman ($7,800) vs. PIT
- WR: Mohamed Sanu ($5,800) vs. GB
- TE: Martellus Bennett ($5,500) vs. PIT
- K: Chris Boswell ($4,600) at NE
- DST: New England Patriots ($4,400) vs. PIT
There are six running backs to trust this week in Le'Veon Bell , Devonta Freeman , Montgomery, Lewis, LeGarrette Blount and Tevin Coleman , and I have them ranked in that order. James White and possibly Aaron Ripkowski are sleepers, but the three I'm mainly targeting this week are Freeman, Montgomery and Lewis based on price and upside.
You can spend the money on Bell ($9,500 on FanDuel and $10,300 on DraftKings), and I'm using him in a lineup this weekend. He's been exceptional all season, especially in the playoffs, and he had 21 carries for 81 yards and 10 catches for 68 yards against the Patriots in Week 7 when Roethlisberger was out.
Here, I'm going with Lewis and Montgomery, and I expect both to get plenty of touches this week. Montgomery has 11 carries in each of the past two games, and he was heavily involved in the passing game again last week at Dallas with six catches for 34 yards on seven targets. He should be involved again if the Packers are without some combination of Nelson, Adams and Allison.
With Lewis, he's been taking on more work of late with at least 13 total touches in four games in a row. He has a touchdown or 100 total yards in two of those games, and he scored two offensive touchdowns against Houston in the divisional round last week.
Blount could take over for Lewis in this matchup after he only had eight carries for 31 yards against the Houston Texans , and Blount destroyed Pittsburgh in Week 7 with 24 carries for 127 yards and two touchdowns. But if Blount doesn't score, his production will clearly be minimal.
The receivers for this week are tricky heading into Sunday with all the injuries. Along with the Packers guys, you also have Julio Jones (toe), Taylor Gabriel (foot), Chris Hogan (thigh) and Malcolm Mitchell (knee) banged up.
Jones and Gabriel are expected to play, and it appears that Hogan and Mitchell will as well. But it's not a bad idea to lean toward the healthy receivers whenever possible, which is why I have Brown, Edelman and Sanu here.
Brown has faced the Patriots twice in the past two seasons, and he has 16 catches for 239 yards and a touchdown on 22 targets in those meetings, including this year when he didn't have Roethlisberger in Week 7. We hope he's ready to atone for his locker room mistake from last week at Kansas City on the field, and he has either a touchdown or 100 receiving yards in three games in a row.
Edelman has been great the past two games with Mitchell out with 16 catches for 288 yards and a touchdown on 26 targets, and he should still play well even if Mitchell returns this week. Edelman had nine catches for 60 yards on 10 targets against the Steelers in Week 7, but Rob Gronkowski (back) was healthy then. Brady is leaning on Edelman right now, and you should as well.
Sanu beat up on the Packers the first time these teams met in Week 8 with nine catches for 84 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets, and he comes into this game with a two-game scoring streak. Jones is the star of this receiving corps, and Gabriel is the flashy No. 2 option. But Sanu likely has just as much upside as Gabriel, although he's cheaper and not dealing with an injury.
Tight end is a gamble this week, and there are only three guys to choose from if Ladarius Green (concussion) is out as expected. Cook, Martellus Bennett and Jesse James are your options, but I would exclude James and focus on Cook and Bennett.
With Cook, it feels like you're chasing points after he had six catches for 103 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets last week at Dallas, and that was just his second touchdown on the season. He could still play well if Green Bay is limited with its receiving corps, but that could mean five catches for 48 yards on nine targets like he had against the Giants in the wild-card round or four catches for 56 yards on eight targets like he had at Detroit in Week 17.
Instead, go with Bennett, who is cheaper than Cook and has scored in three of his past five games. Travis Kelce also just had five catches for 77 yards against the Steelers, and Gronkowski had four catches for 93 yards and a touchdown against Pittsburgh in Week 7.
Here's my lineup on DraftKings for the championship games:
- QB: Tom Brady ($7,100) vs. PIT
- RB: Devonta Freeman ($7,200) vs. GB
- RB: Ty Montgomery ($5,600) at ATL
- WR: Julio Jones ($8,200) vs. GB
- WR: Julian Edelman ($7,300) vs. PIT
- WR: Chris Hogan ($3,900) vs. PIT
- TE: Martellus Bennett ($3,300) vs. PIT
- FLEX: Tevin Coleman ($4,800) vs. GB
- DST: Falcons ($2,200) vs. GB
Freeman has been a monster at home all season with 113 carries for 521 yards and 10 touchdowns and 28 catches for 255 yards and a touchdown in eight games during the year, and he had 125 total yards and a touchdown against Seattle in the divisional round. Freeman also had 58 total yards and two touchdowns in Week 8 vs. Green Bay.
Jones was a focal point of the Packers defense in the first meeting in Week 8 with just three catches for 29 yards on five targets, but he comes into this game with a touchdown or 100 receiving yards in three of his past four outings. And Dez Bryant just destroyed the Packers for nine catches, 132 yards and two touchdowns on 12 targets in the divisional round, so hopefully Jones can match that.
I have Hogan as my No. 3 receiver now, and he's expected to play despite his thigh injury from last week. Prior to going down, Hogan had four catches for 95 yards on four targets against Houston.
If Hogan is out then I have $4,300 to spend on a replacement. My choices would be Allison ($3,800), Mitchell ($3,700) or Eli Rogers ($3,400). I can also look at Michael Floyd ($3,300) or Jeff Janis ($3,000) depending on injuries, but if everyone here aside from Hogan is healthy, I would take Allison from this group.
Coleman comes into this game with a touchdown in three games in a row, including two through the air. He has scored at least 14.9 Fantasy points on DraftKings in each game over that span, and he's done a great job in tandem with Freeman.
We'll see if Ryan will continue to lean on Coleman in the passing game, and he has at least three catches in three games in a row. Coleman is just another weapon for one of the best quarterbacks left in the postseason.
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