Each week I search for the cheapest viable options for your FanDuel lineups at every position. The plays are geared toward cash games unless otherwise indicated and I do try to use a price ceiling of $6500 for QB, $6000 for RB/WR, and $5500 for TE insomuch as possible. In this two game slate featuring the four best teams in the NFL—yes, I think they got it right this year—it makes sense to build a diverse lineup portfolio. You don’t need exposure to everyone, but it’s probably going to take more than one attempt to fit all the right pieces together. That being said, you won’t be forced by salaries into using more than one or two value plays per lineup, so don’t go crazy with your riskier, cheaper plays.
Peyton Manning $6700: After failing to throw a touchdown against the playoffs’ friendliest defense in the Steelers, many will be afraid to touch Manning with a 10 foot pole, or $1 GPP entry fee. I certainly thought he had a shot to put up big points last weekend and got burned for that on FanDuel. Manning has healthy, talented wide receivers in D. Thomas and E. Sanders to throw to and while they’ll face some solid cornerbacks, they should be able to make some plays for him. A lot of people are counting Denver, and therefore Manning, out of this, but it’s foolish not to have some Manning exposure. I expect a balanced game plan with decent reliance on the defense but I really will be shocked if there aren’t a couple Manning TD passes this week.
James White $6400: I like White a lot again this week, even though he certainly didn’t come through last weekend and Denver’s defense is very good. The reason lies with the unpredictability of Bill Belichick’s offense and White’s big play ability. His 29-yard catch and run against the Chiefs was probably the most exciting play of the game. The Patriots need those big chunks in Denver this weekend, and White seems to get them regularly. The hope is either that one big play goes for a touchdown or that it’s a 10-catch day for the receiving back.
Jerricho Cotchery $5200: I was surprised by how ineffective Ted Ginn Jr. was in his return last week. Of course, the Panthers were so committed to the run game and it worked so well in the first half that perhaps I shouldn’t read too much into it. Vegas has this as a closer game with the Panthers favored by just three points. Ginn Jr. will see a lot of Patrick Peterson, so even if he had gotten back to his 2 TD per game form last week I wouldn’t be very excited about the prospect of using him this Sunday. That leaves Philly Brown ($5300) and Cotchery. Cotchery has had value at times this season but the enticing thing is that Mike Clay projects him to match up with Arizona’s weakest corner—Jerraud Powers, who spends more time in the slot than anyone else in the Cardinals’ secondary. Clay ranks this the second best WR-CB matchup of the week after Michael Floyd.
Owen Daniels $5000: I have to write about somebody here but I am NOT using Owen Daniels except maybe in one crazy lineup this weekend. It’s just insane not to fit Rob Gronkowski or Greg Olsen in. They are their teams’ leading receiving options, facing the most generous TE defenses, in terms of fantasy points allowed, and are on the favored teams (according to the Vegas lines). If, however, you’re stacking ‘studs’ at every other position (e.g. Cam Newton, David Johnson, Jonathan Stewart, Julian Edelman, Larry Fitzgerald, and Ginn Jr.), Daniels might be your only TE option who is at least on the field most of the time. Still, your expectations should be low, as Denver ought to rely on the run game and the two wideouts before even thinking about Daniels.
New England Patriots $4600: Denver gave up the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing defenses this season. They are the only team in the playoffs to receive a negative grade for their offense from PFF, and it was way negative—they ranked 20th in overall offense by that score. They struggled to move the ball against a less talented defensive unit last week, and while they didn’t make any mistakes either, that hasn’t been the case all season. New England’s defense is better than some give it credit for, finishing as PFF’s second-best unit. They’ve been up and down fantasy wise, but in a tough week for defenses, buying the cheapest one shouldn’t be a disaster.