Welcome to Round 2 of the playoffs! With such limited choices and some unusual pricing, whether you play the full four game slate or each two game slate, you’ll have to find ways to save salary. Given the big differences between sites this week, I’ve noted where especially the player is a good bargain.
Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers vs. Minnesota
I can’t advise rostering any QB outside of Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and Aaron Rodgers in your cash game lineup. The position is too critical and the probable ranges of outcome too different above and below that line. If you’re looking for a multi-entry tournament option, Garoppolo is my favorite. The 49ers are at home, big favorites, and while Garoppolo didn’t finish the season strong, he at times showed big upside. Unfortunately, those big games came against some pushover opponents like Arizona. Still, players rise to the challenge of the playoffs and while I expect SF to prioritize the run game as usual, Garoppolo and George Kittle should play a big part in a win.
Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay
I was wrong on Travis Homer last week, at least in thinking that he’d be able to find some room against the tough Philly front – he ran 11 times for 12 yards. Lynch didn’t fare much better there, but did manage a short touchdown – his specialty – and a nice reception that he turned into a big play. Coachspeak says he’s acclimated now and ready for a bigger role, yet Homer is still the more expensive back. Green Bay is a formidable defense, especially at home, but over the course of the regular season, they ranked ninth in fantasy points allowed to opposing RBs. Given the goal line opportunities, Lynch is the better salary-saver this week. He’s going to be super-highly owned, but you have to live with that on these smaller slates.
Damien Williams, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Houston
There are a couple good RB matchups this week, including Houston, who ranked sixth in fantasy points allowed to the position during the regular season. That soft spot continued as the Texans allowed Devin Singletary to run all over them in the Wild Card Round. Williams is fully healthy and in that capacity, should serve as the undisputed lead back here. I love Mahomes and the Chiefs’ passing game this week, but I think Williams rushes for around 80 yards and a score too.
Carlos Hyde, Houston Texans at Kansas City
On the other side of this game, the only one with an over/under above 50, we have Hyde and Duke Johnson. The Chiefs pass defense came on strong to close out the regular season, and they ended up as the eighth-best pass defense, allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to WRs. However, they were still soft against the run, and are the best RB matchup of the weekend. Hyde had 16 carries last week against Buffalo, and though he does split reps with Johnson, he figures to be an even bigger part of the plan this week as Houston will try to take whatever advantages they can.
Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers vs. Minnesota
I don’t quite get Samuel’s price. For the last eight weeks of the regular season, he averaged about 13 fantasy points per game. He added a dimension to his game by rushing in touchdowns in Weeks 16 and 17. His target volume did fluctuate, but for the price, he’s been a lot more consistent than others in the range.
Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens vs. Tennessee
Brown is a big play guy. He’s pure risk/reward and Baltimore has shown that they will win games without a major contribution from the passing game. However, it’s hard to argue that the upside is there as he can be a touchdown magnet. Tennessee will probably choose to focus on trying to contain Lamar Jackson in the pocket, and if they can force him to throw, Brown benefits.
Jimmy Graham, Green Bay Packers vs. Seattle
There is a Big Two at TE this week, and most players are probably going to take the safe volume and exceptional skill of Travis Kelce or Kittle this weekend. I’m totally fine with that. If you choose to fade the popularity and high price of those guys, consider going all the way down to Graham. There’s a small revenge narrative there, but Graham finished the season strong with eight targets in the final week of play. He’s healthy, and could find himself open often against a Seahawks Defense that ranked second in fantasy points allowed to opposing TEs.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Houston (FanDuel)
The Chiefs came on strong in the pass defense category to finish the season. They had at least eight fantasy points in each of their last six games. In that span they had 15 sacks and nine interceptions. They are the biggest favorite this weekend, and I expect the Chiefs to put Houston in position to take some risks and make some mistakes.
Green Bay Packers vs. Seattle (DraftKings)
It’s supposed to be freezing, frigid, sub-zero in Green Bay this weekend, which is just one reason to consider using the Packers Defense this week. They ranked ninth in points allowed this season, while averaging the seventh-most turnovers. They were better against the pass, allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks and ninth-fewest to wide receivers. They had at least one pick every week since Week 13 (when they had three against the Giants) and totaled 13 sacks over the last four games. Seattle isn’t normally a turnover prone team, but they were worse overall on the road this year, and the cold can wreak havoc on best-laid plans.