|Fantasy Football: Championship round daily leagues||01.16.15 at 10:30 am ET|
I hope some of you had success with last week’s DraftKings lineups. I know I did and I stuck pretty closely to last week’s recommendations. This week is an even tougher week for getting original lineups because the choices are so incredibly limited with only two games from which to choose talent.
As usual, I’ll do my best to explain my thought process as I construct my weekly lineup, and I’ll have a completed roster by the time we’re done. If you are looking for more information on players not listed in this space, head over to Rotobahn this afternoon. I’ll have my full lineup rankings posted by then.
Last week, I was pretty clear about which quarterbacks I wanted you to play. As it turned out I was right, but I also was wrong. That’s because all of the quarterbacks stepped up and posted significant numbers. Even those who chose Peyton Manning had a chance if they played the other positions well enough.
This week is a little different. With the exception of Aaron Rodgers, I like all the options at quarterback, and even Rodgers has some merit — particularly if you want a contrarian move to differentiate your lineup a bit.
One thing that could end being a plus for Rodgers is the weather. While it’s potentially going to be wet in both Foxboro and in Seattle, it is not expected to be very cold, and that is a plus for a guy who is playing with a significant muscle pull in his calf. Rodgers may be able to get loose this week. We’ll see. Having said all that, my personal choice for quarterback is the same as last week: Tom Brady.
I’m going with Brady because I think he matches up well against the Colts, who don’t do the things that you need to do to knock Brady off of his game. I know people will be talking about the running game and how badly the Patriots have gashed the Colts in recent games. I am seeing things differently. The two reasons for this are as follows. Yes, the Patriots ran all over the Colts earlier this season, but they also demolished them from head to toe. I also think you need to consider that last year’s playoff game was a very different matchup. In 2014, the Patriots were a different offense. There was some concern about a shootout with the Colts. I don’t think those same concerns hold true with the 2014 Patriots — who probably would win a shootout with Indianapolis, and by a solid margin.
Chuck Pagano is a good coach, and I think the Colts will be ready for the ground game this week. At least they’ll be more ready than they were back in Week 11. I also think Belichick will be more aggressive with his passing game — because he can be, for two reasons. First, he has a defense than can make stops. Second, he has an offense with a healthy Rob Gronkowski. To me, for the Patriots to slow this game down is to play into Indianapolis’ hands. As the clearly better team, the Patriots should not be looking to shorten the game by simply possessing the ball.
For these reasons, I am liking Tom Brady at 8,500 units. Here are the four quarterbacks, just so you know the relative costs.
As I said earlier, you can do well with any of these passers, but I’m going with Brady. My concern with Rodgers is the injury. My worry with Wilson, and it’s a minor one, also is Rodgers’ injury. If Seattle can knock out Rodgers, which is far more likely than normal, the game essentially will be over and Wilson could have a light day as a winner because they won’t have him running if the game is in the bag.
As for Luck, he’ll produce, but I worry about what New England can take away from him. I have a feeling that we may see more zone and combo coverage from the Patriots than folks anticipate — their primary goal being to take T.Y. Hilton off the board to some extent and to force Luck to beat them with his secondary weapons.
|Fantasy Football: Divisional round daily leagues||01.09.15 at 11:44 am ET|
If you are playing in one of the big contests this weekend, setting your DraftKings lineup is going to be a little tricky. The divisional round games help set up a rare dynamic in daily fantasy football. You have a small number of games (four) and most of the country watched these teams play last week. The exception would be the bye teams, but what’s left to learn about Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers or their respective offenses?
With familiarity at a high point and with available options at a low point, the number of unique fantasy rosters will be few. Good luck finding a contrarian move that half the league isn’t at least thinking about. Yes, it’s a tough week for differentiation. So tough, in fact, that you may want to steer away from it as a major point of strategy and focus more on matchups and lineup synergy.
This week I’m going to create two lineups — starting each with a different quarterback and working from there. The two quarterbacks I’m choosing will save me some money while not compromising upside.
Tom Brady (7,800 units), Patriots vs. Ravens
Tony Romo (7,600 units), Cowboys at Packers
These are not choices free of risk. Romo always comes with injury concerns and the tendency to go “tilt” at the wrong time, and Brady has a tough matchup for a less-then-mobile quarterback. That said, I see as much risk or more with all the quarterbacks who cost the same or more, and I have no interest in getting into the Joe Flacco or Cam Newton business. I’m not betting against the Patriots defense at home and certainly not Seattle’s.
|Fantasy Football: Wild card round daily leagues||01.02.15 at 10:23 am ET|
On Thursday we talked about how to draft in playoff fantasy leagues. These leagues run through the entire playoffs, including the Super Bowl, and they can be a lot of fun. Having said that, they also can be maddening, because your team’s success hinges largely on which teams win and which teams lose. I think we’ve all seen enough NFL playoff games to realize that they often come down to elements that are impossible to predict such as overturned plays and questionable yellow flags, not to mention the way an oddly shaped ball bounces.
Today we are talking about playing daily fantasy leagues during the postseason. Specifically, we are talking about the wild card round. I’ll have a separate piece next week for the divisional round. Playing in daily playoff leagues rather than multi-week leagues removes the stress of predicting winners and losers, which is a more comfortable game for a lot of fantasy footballers.
Since DraftKings is good enough to sponsor our fantasy football content, I’ll be using DraftKings’ weekly prices in this article. These postseason leagues work exactly like the regular season ones, but with fewer NFL games to choose from, obviously. If any of you played in the Thanksgiving day tournaments, these are basically the same thing. Your options are limited to eight teams playing in four games. This makes switching players far more complex than normal because you have fewer options who will match up money-wise. Ideally, you don’t want to blow up a team just to make a single switch. For this reason, I like to get my team the way I want it early and I want to avoid players who have drama. This week, those players include Le’Veon Bell (knee) and A.J. Green (concussion).
One other thing to be mindful of is that this is the playoffs. The low-hanging-fruit matchups are few and far between. GMs who like to stream against the Jets pass defense or the Titans run defense will have to find a different path to the winner’s circle. Therefore, it is crucial to try to take advantage of as many of the plus matches as you can. I’ve isolated the matches that I want to be involved in below. My ideal lineup will include as many of these options as possible.
Jeremy Hill (6,200 units), Bengals at Colts
This is pretty obvious. The Bengals must control the ball in this game, because you do not want to get into a shootout where you have Andy Dalton and the other guys have Andrew Luck. Hill is crucial for Cincinnati this week, and the Colts can be run on. The rookie is a downhill back with three-down ability, as I said in his 2014 scouting report. This is a player to know well for 2015.
Torrey Smith (5,400 units), Ravens at Steelers
He can get it done against the Steelers corners, who cannot run with him. The Ravens will have to put the ball in the air to win this game, and Smith is their most dangerous weapon. He’s faster and quicker than the Steelers cornerbacks.
|Fantasy Football: Postseason draft preparation||01.01.15 at 11:23 am ET|
Pat Riley used to say that nothing really happens in a NBA playoff series until a team loses on their home court. To me, NFL playoff leagues are similar. In NFL playoff pools, things don’t really get interesting until there’s an upset. Once that happens, or if that happens, all bets are off. When things play out as expected in the real games, the fantasy teams that draw high draft positions will usually be the winners. However, an upset or two can change everything. If you drew a late draft position, this is your potential saving grace, but you need to locate that low-seeded team that has the ability to make a run.
In this article I will look at two primary things. First, I’ll break down the 12 playoff teams and how far I see them going. This is my take, but if your’s differs, you should adjust the rankings accordingly. Second, I’ll break the top 75 players down into tiers. If you are in a hurry and are in need of full rankings and cheat sheets, go to Rotobahn and download ours for free. You can be ready to draft in about 60 seconds.
When preparing for a playoff draft, you need to answer a few essential questions. Because unlike regular-season drafts, you have the added element of players getting knocked out when they lose. The outcomes of the games themselves play a huge role in the outcome of your league, because when your player advances you get another game and the potential for more after that. This makes certain bits of player information crucial this week. For example, consider the massive impact of the Ndamukong Suh non-suspension. Suh’s presence in this week’s game has a huge impact on the value of Cowboys players and Lions players. If the suspension had been upheld, the Lions are almost a certain loser at Dallas. With Suh on the field, I give them a 30 or 40 percent shot at winning. The Cowboys go from an almost certain two-game team to a somewhat probable two-game team. That’s big. Players who are one-and-done are team killers, especially if you select them with a premium pick. Understanding this, you’ll want to answer the following questions. Your board depends on them.
Are there any teams that can realistically play four times, and who are they?
The only way this happens is if a team playing in the Wildcard round makes the Super Bowl. Look at this week’s matchups. Do you see any of these teams making runs at the big game? In the NFC, is there a team playing this weekend that could win at Seattle? In the AFC, is there a team playing this weekend that could win at New England? My answer to both is no, so I can’t see any teams playing more than three games. Remember, teams that have a bye max out at three games played. Only Wildcard teams can get that fourth game. This has made juggernauts out of teams like Arizona in 2008 and the Ravens in 2012 — the Giants did it in 2007 and 2011, so there’s plenty of precedence for it happening.
|Fantasy Football: Week 17 starts, sits||12.26.14 at 10:56 am ET|
Welcome to the Week 17 starts and sits! It’s a tough week to predict when you look at the teams with nothing to play for, so when given the choice, you want to focus on players who are in need-to-win situations. Using Patriots players this week is inherently risky, and the same goes for the Broncos, Colts and Cowboys.
I’ve isolated some players in good situations for your consideration. Don’t forget to tune in Sunday morning for another episode of the Fantasy Football Hour with my co-host Jim Hackett. If you have last-minute lineup concerns, you should check out my Sunday chat. It takes place right here at WEEI.com and it runs from 11 a.m. to noon.
If you want to keep track of all our fantasy football content, both here and at Rotobahn, follow me on Twitter. I send out links to all fresh articles and chats as well, including our full Week 17 lineup rankings. I’ll be back next week with playoff pool cheat sheets and strategies.
Cam Newton, Panthers at Falcons
He got his feet wet last week, but I expect the Panthers to unleash Newton in this game because there is a playoff berth at stake.
He has a receiver who tilts the field in Odell Beckham, and it’s made a big difference lately. Manning should finish 2015 strong, and I like his chances of being a QB1 next season if the Giants address the offensive line better than they did in 2014.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers vs. Bengals
He has a lot to play for here with the division title in the balance, so expect four quarters of action and QB1 results when all is said and done.
Andrew Luck, Colts at Titans
They went to backup Matt Hasselbeck early last week, and I am not betting on a longer outing for Luck this week — not with so much at stake. The Colts are locked into the fourth seed no matter what happens this week.
|Fantasy Football: Week 17 waiver wire||12.23.14 at 9:09 am ET|
Welcome to the Week 17 waiver wire. If you are reading this then I need to tell you two things. First, convince your league to use Week 16 as its bowl week, it makes for a much more sane finals experience. The second thing is congratulations, it’s good to play for all the marbles. That said, there will be some challenges as many players will be sitting or worse — playing limited and unpredictable snaps. I’ll be assessing the posture of all 32 teams as we move through the week and I will try to lay out some good options when I post this week’s starts and sits on Friday.
You might think that I am about to get some rest with the fantasy season winding down. I’ll get a little, but if you were a Rotobahn reader in 2014, you know that our content just keeps going. We’ll be releasing our rookie scouting reports just like last year and it all starts in early January. Last year, I told all our readers about the best class of receivers our scouting staff had ever seen. The early sense on 2015 is that it’s a seriously deep running back class. We’ll be bringing it all to you either here or at Rotobahn and it’ll all be free. We’ll also be making another trip to the NFL Combine, so check back for that. Last year, we met the likes of Martavis Bryant, Jordan Mathews, Tre Mason, not to mention Tyler Gaffney, a guy all Patriots fans will be getting to know in 2015.
I will be posting my usual expanded waiver wire over at Rotobahn this afternoon. It’s free, so head on over if you play in a deep format or are looking for some defensive teams to stream in Week 16. Next week, I’ll be back with a look at playoff pools. Like last season, we’ll have an article on rankings and strategy and there will be a lot of Patriots in the early rounds, thanks to their potential to go deep into the postseason tournament, if not all the way.
As always, the ownership percentages are listed for each player. These rates of ownership are based on Yahoo! leagues, which tend to be smaller and more representative of the 10-team leagues most of us play in. Obviously, these numbers are mostly for perspective. What really matters is which players are available in your particular league, and you’ll need to do the legwork on that.
I recommended him last week and all he did was light up the Rams in St. Louis, so I will stick with Manning and Odell Beckham this week at home versus the deflated Eagles. Manning is the plum of the waiver wire if he’s available.
Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings — 11 percent
Bridgewater was one of our favorite players going into the 2014 NFL Draft. Why he slipped was beyond our ability to comprehend. The rookie has really settled down the last month or so and he’s been been fantasy-viable four out of the last five games. That viability should continue this week at home against a staggering Bears defense.
|Fantasy Football: Week 16 starts, sits||12.19.14 at 9:15 am ET|
It’s bowl week for most fantasy footballers, and we’re back with a fresh batch of starts and sits for your perusal. I’ve posted three starts for the four major positions and a player to avoid for each as well. As always, for information on players not listed in this article, I encourage you to check out my full lineup rankings at Rotobahn.
Don’t forget to tune in Sunday morning for another episode of the Fantasy Football Hour with my co-host Jim Hackett. If you have last-minute lineup concerns, you should check out my Sunday chat. It takes place right here at WEEI.com and it runs from 11 a.m. to noon.
If you want to keep track of all our fantasy football content, both here and at Rotobahn, follow me on Twitter. I send out links to all fresh articles and chats as well.
Mark Sanchez, Eagles at Washington
The top nine quarterbacks are pretty well locked in by my math. After that, I see Sanchez as a good option because he has a nice matchup and because of the weapons around him.
He’s a big-game player, and he’ll make enough plays to give you QB1 output. The Cardinals are not fully loaded on either side of the ball right now, so stick with Wilson unless you have a higher-ranked option.
The emergence of Odell Beckham has changed Manning’s fortunes for the better. He’s a viable quarterback this week in all leagues if you are in need. The Rams are tough, but I expect low-end QB1 output, so start him if you have the need.
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers vs. Chargers
There’s just too much going wrong in San Francisco to try him this week. The Harbaugh situation has gone from bad to worse, and it’s showing up on the field. You can do better on the average waiver wire. Check the Week 16 rankings for options.