Happy New Year gamers. I hope you all found plenty of success in Week 17 and in the NFL regular season as a whole. With all the season-long leagues wrapped up, this is the perfect time to dip your toes in DFS if you haven’t already. This is also one the last times where we’ll have enough players to choose from to really build solid lineups and set ourselves apart in tournaments and qualifiers. Speaking of qualifiers, I can’t speak highly enough of FanDuel’s Playboy Mansion Championship events. I was out there for their Playboy Football Championship and it was an absolute blast. They’re running another one for NBA, and you can literally qualify for $1. Check it out here.
The cupboards are beginning to get a little bare in terms of optimal plays at WR and TE, but there’s still a lot of value to be uncovered this week. As always, if you have any questions about players feel free to hit me up on Twitter @ohnjz. Good luck this week!
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $1.75 Million Fantasy Football league for Wild Card Weekend's games. It's only $25 to join and first prize is $175,000. Starts Saturday, January 3rd at 4:35pm ET. Here's the link.
Tier 1: Stud Stack Targets
As usual we’re going to look at pairing a few stud WRs with the top QBs from STLCardinals84’s excellent QB/RB Grind Down, forming a ‘Stack’ of players whose fantasy values are linked. This approach can really put you ahead in tournaments – be sure to check out RotoGrinders’ theory behind ‘Stacking’ or ‘Handcuffing’ in NFL DFS.
Antonio Brown is arguably the top WR to stack with one of the top QBs from STLCardinals84’s QB/RB Grind Down. Readers of mine at RotoGrinders are plenty familiar with my Antonio Brown love affair in DFS, but allow me to list just a few reasons why the Steelers stud WR is both an excellent DFS option and 2014’s top WR. Brown is the quintessential high-floor DFS play, with NINE games of at least 8 receptions, and TWELVE games of at least 90 receiving yards. Like a high CEILING to go with your high floor? Brown is your guy: he’s had EIGHT games with at least 1 TD, and a crazy FOUR games with at least 2 TDs. Dude is just unreal. This week Brown’s high-floor/high-ceiling freak show faces the Ravens, whom Brown has already undressed for a combined 18-234-1 over their two 2014 regular season meetings. That includes an 11-144-1 shredding in Week 9. The scary part is that since Brown has faced these Ravens, they’ve gotten progressively worse against the pass, as injuries have decimated a unit that was among the NFL’s strongest earlier in the season. Now instead of stud shutdown corner Jimmy Smith, Brown will see coverage from players like Rashaan Melvin and Anthony Levine, whom you’ve never heard of because they aren’t any good. If you’re only paying up for one WR this week, make it Brown – he could go absolutely berserk against this wimpy Ravens secondary.
If you want to take on a little risk in order to differentiate yourself in a tournament, I doubt many will be looking to TY Hilton after he saw just three targets and played only one half in Week 17. We shouldn’t overlook the fact that Hilton broke out for 82-1345-7 this season; nor should we forget that Hilton bombed these same Bengals for 7-109 back in Week 7. He’s basically uncoverable when healthy. If Hilton is finally able to push his balky hamstring again, he could have a massive day against the Bengals.
Tier 2: The Next Best Thing
We can’t roster ALL the stud WRs, so every week we’ll take a look at players who offer solid upside at a more modest price.
Mohammed Sanu, Cincinnati Bengals, $6,000 (11th-most expensive WR)
This pick is contingent on WR AJ Green being OUT this week (Green is currently doubtful). And even then, it takes a leap of faith to roster a guy who hasn’t had more than ONE catch in any of his last 3 games. But let’s not forget how great Sanu was when Green was hurt earlier this year – he was basically unstoppable when force-fed the volume of targets befitting a #1 WR. The other worry here is the lockdown coverage of Colts CB Vontae Davis, but most people are overlooking the fact that Davis only plays on half of the field; the Bengals can scheme Sanu away from Davis if they want to. If Green sits, the sheer volume of targets that Sanu should see will make him a strong value at his increasingly depressed price point.
Tier 3: Bargain Bin Baller
These are the low-salary plays that allow you to go BIG at other positions. Usually made up of rookies, injury replacements, or emerging players – upside and increased opportunities are the name of the game here!
Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh Steelers, $5,600 (14th-most expensive WR)
Bryant offers tantalizing upside at a modest price this week. Unfortunately he also offers a pretty pathetic floor. When the Roethlisberger-Bryant deepball connection is on, we get performances like Week 10 vs the Jets (4-143-1), and Week 14 vs the Bengals (4-109-1). But when it’s off, or simply isn’t needed, we can often be left with performances like Week 13 vs the Saints (1-23), or Week 17 vs the Bengals (1-21). It’s maddeningly difficult to predict what version of Bryant we’ll get on a weekly basis, but his ceiling is undeniable, and the paper-thing Ravens secondary will be no match for Bryant’s obnoxious size/speed combination.
In a week where there’s no Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham to soak up the spotlight, at long last, Greg Olsen gets his chance to shine. Olsen has sneakily been an excellent alternative to the two ‘stud’ TEs all season, offering a consistently high floor to go with the occasional top overall TE ceiling. And now Olsen draws a matchup with the Cardinals, who allow the MOST yards per game and the 5th-most FPPG. Their average line allowed to opposing TEs is 5.3 receptions, 67.8 yards, and .5 TDs. That’s an unbeatable floor, which reinforces Olsen as the top overall TE this week.
Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys, $5,400 (3rd-most expensive TE)
I’m not in love with any value TEs this season, but there are a few viable alternatives if you don’t want to pay up for Greg Olsen. One of the top alternatives is Jason Witten, who has turned around a disappointing 2014 (from a receiving standpoint) to post lines of 7-69, 7-90-1, and 4-49 over the Cowboys’ last 3 games. While the Lions are middle-of-the-pack in terms of FPPG allowed, they’re actually allowing the same number of receptions per game as the Cardinals (t4th-most, and a reason why I suggested Greg Olsen above). It’s not an ideal play, but if Olsen is held to his floor this week, Witten could get you the same production and also provide $1000 of salary relief.