I warned The Sports Geek readers last week that the daily fantasy football season as you knew it was about to end. Regular NFL DFS slates are pretty much gone, with this week’s two-game conference championship slate being the last chance for normalcy.
After this, you’re looking at showdown slates involving the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl 53. Personally, I’d much rather just take a look at the latest Super Bowl 53 odds and place an actual bet, rather than mess with those.
I’ll still be here to break down those NFL DFS contests, of course. I just thought everyone should know that the transition period from daily fantasy football to NBA DFS and MLB DFS is about to be in full swing.
Fortunately, it’s not there quite yet.
If you play your cards right, you can still win big in NFL DFS GPPs at FanDuel this week. Join me as I break down this tiny slate in an effort to piece together a winner this weekend:
NFL DFS Studs to Trust
A week after almost going 5/5 on my stud core, I had a few misses during the Divisional Round. Andrew Luck ended up being a total spare in a game that was supposed to top 57 points, Alvin Kamara was relatively lifeless and Eric Ebron was held in check.
The good news is those studs were fairly high-owned in tournaments. I also struck gold with Tyreek Hill and the Patriots defense wasn’t too bad.
As I begin the NFL DFS lineup building process this week, I’ll likely start with a core containing the following options:
- Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints ($8.8k)
- James White, RB, New England Patriots ($7.7k)
- Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs ($8.4k)
- Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots ($5.6k)
- New Orleans Saints Defense ($4.6k)
Players to Avoid
While I like to start out each slate highlighting the elite options I covet, I also want to be careful of which guys could hurt me.
Last week I wasn’t too enamored with the likes of Jared Goff, Melvin Gordon, Alshon Jeffery, Rob Gronkowski, and the Colts defense. None of these guys would have been greatly missed if you didn’t use them in your daily fantasy football lineups, so it looks like I swept this category.
I didn’t nail all of my studs, but I definitely got you off of some duds if you listened to my NFL DFS advice in this spot. Here are the players I’m not forcing into my rosters this week:
- Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams ($8k)
- C.J. Anderson, RB, Los Angeles Rams ($6.5k)
- Chris Hogan, WR, New England Patriots ($5.2k)
- All the Other Tight Ends
- New England Patriots Defense
Contrarian Options to Consider
It’s a tiny two-game slate for the AFC and NFC title game, but you can still find ways to differentiate your lineups.
Last week I felt like Dak Prescott, James White, Julian Edelman, Dallas Goedert and the Chargers defense could all be contrarian. Some of them were, while White, Edelman and even Dak were all strong plays.
Let’s see if I can’t keep the positive momentum going with some more NFL DFS contrarian picks for the conference championship round:
- Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots ($8.4k)
- Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints ($6.1k)
- Josh Reynolds, WR, Los Angeles Rams ($5.4k)
I don’t know how contrarian one gets when picking from four options, but Brady feels like the call here. He’s actually got a terrific matchup against a Chiefs team that ranked 28th versus fantasy passers during the regular season. He looked quite good last week and happened to rip KC for 340 passing yards when he faced them earlier in the year. With Patrick Mahomes and Drew Brees surely garnering more ownership, it’s possible Brady really is a low-owned play.
People may pay up for the stud rushers on this slate and I don’t really blame them. While I see the merit, it’s probably not my personal daily fantasy football strategy. The main reason is there is value to be had and it starts with Ingram, who will be at home against a beatable Rams defense that allowed the 8th most rushing yards to backs during the regular season. Ingram is looking at 10-15 touches and goal-line work in a must-win home game. I’ll take 60 total yards and a score and move along.
There is also Reynolds, who could roam free in the middle of the field and the red-zone with the Saints likely more focused on stopping Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks, and Robert Woods. Marshon Lattimore will be trying to silence Cooks most likely, but someone is bound to break free a bit in this game. Reynolds has flashed end-zone chops and even in a likely loss, I think he could return value at a pretty nice price tag.
NFL DFS Sleepers to Target
Lastly, it’s always good to dive even deeper than some contrarian plays and locate a few salary savers that can help you land studs and pan out from a production perspective.
Going into last week I liked Philip Rivers, Damien Williams, Tre’Quan Smith, Hunter Henry and the Dallas defense and sneaky (and cheap) daily fantasy football sleepers.
Smith, Henry and the Cowboys were all busts, but Williams was a total monster. Rivers started horrifyingly slow, but actually ended up putting up big numbers and panned out beautifully.
Let’s see if I can nail some more gems for this weekend:
- Rex Burkhead, RB, New England Patriots ($5.5k)
- Tre’Quan Smith, WR, New Orleans Saints ($5k)
It’s a small slate, so the true daily fantasy football sleepers are few and far between. Burkhead still stands out, as he’s extremely versatile and even scored last week. You just never know what Bill Belichick has planned, so he could totally flip everything and feature Burkhead heavily out of nowhere. The matchup certainly would allow for a big day.
With Ted Ginn Jr.’s price spiking this week and pretty much every other viable wide receiver priced well over $5k this week, Smith is one of the few NFL DFS sleepers to look to. He is not going to be easy to trust, but he has deep speed and can take even one target the distance and pay off in an instant.
There is going to be very little margin for error this weekend, so my suggestion is to do some research, play some chalky guys and then go with your gut. I think part of the process is figuring out who wins these games, but also gauging how they win.
Both of these games opened the week with three-point spreads and massive 57-point Totals. That suggests we have some fireworks in store for us and if you believe that to be true, it may make sense for cram as many elite weapons from all sides as you possibly can.
Personally, I think the Saints and Patriots are advancing to Super Bowl 53 this weekend. I’m letting that dictate how I map my team out and also paying attention to areas where I can exploit in terms of player salary.
They both should be fine, but I actually really like New England’s offense in this game. They’re built to crank out more short area plays, so extreme cold and outside elements really don’t impact them as much.
But that’s just the starting point. Be sure to factor as many things as possible and try to hammer out your favorite plays. Then take salary into consideration as you try to work your way up to the perfect NFL DFS lineup.
Whatever you decide, I wish you luck. It’s the end of the daily fantasy football season and hopefully, we all can cut out a piece of the cash-winning pie. Good luck and enjoy the games!