Contrarian plays for FanDuel
It’s still important to be different without being stupid in the playoffs but it’s a lot harder to do with so few players in the pool. You hear that defense wins championships and it’s true: the defense vs. position rankings for wild-card weekend don’t show a pretty picture for fantasy. Focus on using contrarian players for 1) upside—you’re shooting for the moon or 2) low-owned stability that allows you to afford the guys you want elsewhere. As usual, this is not meant to translate into a lineup (e.g. don’t use Rodgers and the Redskins together), but rather to provide suggestions for how to shake up your lineup in GPPs.
Aaron Rodgers $8100: Aaron Rodgers finished what seemed like one of the most disappointing seasons ever as the 7th best fantasy QB. He threw 31 touchdowns with only eight interceptions, and ran for one touchdown. I have been patiently waiting for him to have a classic Rodgers game, and you, like me are probably sick of it. For perhaps the last time this year, he’ll be in my tournament lineups with the best QB matchup of wild-card weekend (Redskins allow the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing QBs). This is projected by Vegas to be the closest and second highest scoring game. Given the state of Green Bay’s run game, that spells a lot of Aaron Rodgers. He’s still perfectly capable of a 5 TD game.
Jeremy Hill $6700: This will probably mark the first time I recommend a running back against Pittsburgh’s second best run defense in the league (in terms of fantasy points allowed). With the Bengals not able to get Andy Dalton back for the playoffs, they had better plan a balanced attack. Yes, it’s easier to throw on the Steelers than it is to run on them—they’ve allowed only 4 rushing and 2 receiving touchdowns to running backs this season—but Hill has been effective in three consecutive games, with at least 16 touches in each. The fact that he was so terrible against them last time (Week 14, 3.4 FanDuel points) should keep his ownership low but I expect a better outing Saturday night.
Alfred Morris $5500: Matt Jones, the best fantasy back for Washington in the regular season, is questionable for Sunday’s game with Green Bay. This game features the softest run defense of the weekend on both sides, which is still above average compared to the rest of the league (the Redskins and Packers are 15th and 18th in fantasy points allowed to RBs). Over the past four weeks, Morris has received 11, 14, 17, and 19 carries, a pleasant upward trend. He hit 100 rushing yards in Week 17 against a Dallas team that put up little resistance. He won’t have it that easy, but neither will Kirk Cousins. Remember, Cousins’ success has come mainly against bad teams. The Redskins will be committed to establishing the run and Morris is their best chance of doing so.
Jeremy Maclin $7200: Maclin is dealing with a bruised hip, but it shouldn’t keep him out of Saturday’s game. He is Alex Smith’s main target, and despite the anemic nature of the Chief’s offense finished the regular season as the 15th best PPR receiver. With 8 TDs and only one drop, Maclin is efficient with upside. His matchup is one of the worst but his talent and his role ought to overcome that this weekend.
Randall Cobb $6500: If Rodgers has a big game, I’m guessing it’s Cobb that finally comes through, not James Jones or Davante Adams. Everyone is down on him thanks to his putridly inefficient season, but he did finish with the 17th most targets among wide receivers (and most on his team). With only 6 TDs and 10 drops (!), the best argument to be made for Cobb is the one I made for Rodgers. It’s a high scoring game that will rely on it’s passing attack against the worst pass defense playing this weekend.
Travis Kelce $6200: I’m playing it safe at tight end this weekend with the top two, but among Jordan Reed, Tyler Eifert and Kelce, I think Kelce will be the lowest owned. Kelce had the best game of the season against Houston in the opener when he scored two of his five total touchdowns. The Texans are for sure a better defense now than they were then, but Kelce is a reliable cog in this Chiefs offense. The cheapest of the three, he’s also a reasonably high floor tight end if you really need those $200.
Washington Redskins $4300: They’ll also be my bargain defense, sorry for the spoiler. The fact is the improved Redskins defense is a big reason they’re in the playoffs. Like Cousins, they’ve done well against bad teams. However, it might surprise you, like it did me, that the Packers have given up the 15th most fantasy points to opposing defenses this season. That’s the most among the eight teams playing this weekend. Washington has 26 takeaways, and is above average in sacks (38). Rodgers doesn’t turn the ball over very often, but has been sacked 47 times this season, fifth most in the NFL.