I got the heroics part right when it came to my daily fantasy football picks from last week. I had Stefon Diggs in my lineup and in addition to pulling off one of the most improbable game-winning touchdowns I’ve ever seen, he ended a fantastic day with a sick 6-137-1 line.
Diggs was just one piece to my NFL DFS puzzle. Tom Brady got the action going on Saturday, as he paid off with 337 passing yards and three scores. He ended up being a miss if compared to Ben Roethlisberger’s obscene numbers against a stout Jaguars defense, but Brady was by no means a bad play. He ranked #2 over the weekend at the quarterback position.
My only true gaffes came at running back, as fading Leonard Fournette, Le’Veon Bell and New England rushers proved costly. Still, Latavius Murray (67 yards, 1 TD) was a fine value play, while Devonta Freeman notched a score despite being stifled as a runner in Philly.
These guys were fine, but they were far from elite.
Rob Gronkowski was one of the best tight end plays, as expected, while Danny Amendola was an elite value pick (11 catches, 112 yards) and JuJu Smith-Schuster salvaged a poor outing with a late meanginless score against Jacksonville.
The Falcons were a fine try on defense, too, while Matt Bryant was a decent option in theory, but mustered just 4 points.
Overall, it was a pretty good squad, but it certainly wasn’t the best.
The Conference Championship round of the NFL playoffs arrives this weekend, however, and gives me one last chance to piece together a GPP-winner. Let’s see what my favorite mixture of studs and value picks looks like at FanDuel this week:
QB: Tom Brady – New England Patriots ($9k)
Brady should garner staggering ownership this week, as it’s arguable the Jags’ elite defense got somewhat exposed last week. Jacksonville won, but they still gave up 5 touchdowns and nearly 500 yards through the air. Win or lose, I think Brady gets his this week.
The other options aren’t very enticing, but Brady was in top form last week and could come into the AFC title game in a bit of a groove. There’s a chance he face-plants against a tough defense, but I’m not really buying it. Even if he posts marginal numbers, I don’t see the argument for using Case Keenum, Nick Foles or Blake Bortles over him.
The only guy in that group I’d have real interest in is Keenum, but aside from his miracle game-winner last week, he’s shown evidence of the wheels coming off lately. He’s a fine pivot at $8k if you don’t want to be burned by an expensive Brady, but the chalk reigns supreme at quarterback for me this week.
RB: James White – New England Patriots ($4.8k)
White is shockingly dirt cheap despite being extremely involved in New England’s game plan last week. I’ll give him another go, as Jacksonville’s biggest weakness is their run defense and they just gave up 9 catches and 155 total yards to Le’Veon Bell.
White isn’t Bell, but he’s pretty talented and the Pats run dump-offs and screens as good (and as often) as anyone. The matchup on paper isn’t amazing, but White is at home and could be an elite value pick if Rex Burkhead and/or Mike Gillislee are inactive or not part of the offense’s plan this weekend.
RB: Latavius Murray – Minnesota Vikings ($6.8k)
Dion Lewis and Leonard Fournette are without a doubt the top two running backs to target on this slate, but I have to think fading both gives you a chance at establishing some favorable leverage on the field in GPPs.
White could steal production away from Lewis, who has the same difficult matchup, while Fournette duplicating his insane performance (3 scores) of a week ago is asking too much. For all of their struggles, New England did shut down a strong power back in Derrick Henry last week, so it’s no given that Fournette goes nuts again.
I’ll pull the hard fade on both and hope White and Murray go low-owned. Murray has a brutal matchup against the Eagles, but he’s cheaper and has a concrete role with scoring upside. I really only am asking for something close to what he did last week. A score with 60+ yards will do the trick, provided Fournette and Lewis don’t have career outings.
WR: Danny Amendola – New England Patriots ($6.4k)
Amendola was a big piece to the puzzle in New England’s passing game last week and I wouldn’t be shocked if that rang true again this weekend. The Jags are loaded in the secondary, but they excel largely on the outside and could be a little more vulnerable to quick, short passes.
Either way, they got routinely burned last week, so I’m not sure anyone in this passing game is necessarily off limits.
With Jacksonville probably worried more about Brandin Cooks or Chris Hogan burning them deep, I think the shifty Amendola could again be a big hit. His price saw a big spike, but he still offers solid value on this small slate.
WR: Stefon Diggs – Minnesota Vikings ($6.7k)
The benefit of fading the top running backs on this slate is I get to load up on some hopefully active wide receivers. Diggs was the hero last week, but it’s possible he could pay off yet again this weekend. Philly’s weakness remains their pass defense, and they did just get done allowing 100+ yards out of Julio Jones.
Diggs is known mostly for his PPR upside, but he’s also shown the ability to make big plays down the field. I like his price and matchup enough this week to go back to the well.
WR: Adam Thielen – Minnesota Vikings ($7.4k)
Thielen has the chance to be mildly contrarian this week, as he’s not cheap and those rushers I touched on could garner high ownership. I like him, regardless, as the Eagles can give up big plays in the passing game and big plays are what Thielen provides.
Last week wasn’t even a big week for Thielen, yet he still topped 10 fantasy points and I think he’s been too quiet for too long. I wouldn’t be shocked if he churned out a long score in this one and paid off in a big way.
Ashon Jeffery is off the table for me, as he hasn’t been good with Nick Foles under center and he’ll also be facing elite cover man, Xavier Rhodes. I’m not overly into outside receivers with the Pats or spare options in Philly or Jacksonville, either. My WR trio is Danny, Thielen and Diggs, pretty much exclusively.
TE: Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots ($8.4k)
Zach Ertz and Kyle Rudolph offer value on this small slate if you want to pay up for those running backs, but The Gronk is the best option when it’s all said and done. He stepped up last week and with his toughest matchup to date, I’ll be slightly surprised if he doesn’t come up big again.
Jacksonville can be nasty, but they’re still on the road and did not look great as a secondary last week. That, and tight end Vance McDonald specifically went nuts (10 catches, 112 yards) in that matchup. The matchup is brutal by the numbers, but nobody has an easy matchup at this point. It’s Gronk or bust for me.
K: Jake Elliott – Philadelphia Eagles ($5.1k)
I’m open to three kickers here and Josh Lambo is probably the only one I really don’t want any exposure to. Elliott is my favorite option, however, as he’s done serious work since Foles took over (8+ fantasy points in 4 straight games) and should continue to be leaned on with Philly’s passing game struggling.
The Eagles do not have a good matchup, but they’re still at home and they have a good running game. I think that’ll be enough to move the ball and help keep things tight. Elliott could be their offensive MVP yet again this week and due to the price, hopefully he’s even mildly contrarian.
DEF: Minnesota Vikings ($4.9k)
Most people will be on the Patriots or Jaguars this week. New England probably has the best matchup at home, while Jacksonville offers the most value due to their upside. Minnesota is on the road and gave up 24 points to the Saints, but they face Nick Foles.
I don’t need much more of an argument than that, as they remain a very talented and balanced unit. The Vikings stop the run very well, which could force Foles into action more than Philly would like. The wheels are bound to come off at some point and if they do, the Vikes could benefit greatly as a defense.
Overall, there isn’t much room for error on such a tiny daily fantasy football slate. You’re going to need to eat some chalk, but if you want to win a GPP, two things need to happen; you need to not have any epic gaffes and you need to take a contrarian shot or three that pays off.
For me, that’s fading the top two running backs. The secondary options really aren’t that bad and if these games go like I think they will, I’m not even sure Fournette has that much upside. Famous last words, I’m sure, but that’s my strategy this week.