Well, it’s been a fun ride for the 2015/2016 season. This will be the last week of Grind Downs for this year, so I would like to take this opportunity to say thanks for reading! Hopefully we will be back next year and better than ever. Until then, let’s take a peek at some picks for this final week of daily fantasy games. Hopefully your year was a profitable one!
*Note – FanDuel prices in parentheses
Three to target
1. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals ($8,900)
2. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers ($8,700)
3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers ($8,300)
If you want to play it a safe at this position, look no further than Carson Palmer. He will most likely be the highest-owned signal-caller in the divisional round, as the salary cap is not overly restrictive this week and you can afford to spend up at quarterback. In addition, when looking over the NFL odds, the Cardinals are projected to score 28 points in this matchup against a Green Bay team that they just dominated three weeks ago. I am fine with taking him in any format while differentiating my GPP lineups at other positions.
Should you opt for a more risk/reward approach, the Panthers can offer some intrigue. Cam Newton has a tough matchup against a good Seattle defense, but he has proven to be matchup-proof for much of the season. He was the fantasy MVP of 2015-2016, and it is hard to argue with his consistent success. He will likely go under-owned this week, so fire up Cam as a high-upside tournament option on FanDuel.
Something looked like it “clicked” with Aaron Rodgers a week ago. The Packers got back to their up-tempo, no-huddle offense, and plenty of success followed in the final three quarters against the Redskins. Obviously, the matchup gets a lot tougher this week with an Arizona team on tap that has one of the better defenses in the league. However, the game has the highest total of the weekend, and the Packers are seven-point underdogs. They will likely be forced to the air early and often, and Rodgers might be able to dial up another solid game by the time all is said and done.
One to avoid
1. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers ($8,100)
I admire Ben Roethlisberger’s courage to give it a go despite torn ligaments in his shoulder, but this certainly isn’t a good sign for the prospects of offensive success. The Steelers are facing a good defense on the road in a tough environment. In addition, leading receiver Antonio Brown is unlikely to get cleared from the concussion protocol in time for this game. Starting running back DeAngelo Williams is out. Pittsburgh has the lowest projected team total on the board. Yeah, this isn’t going to go well. Don’t bother spending up for a banged-up Roethlisberger here.
Three to target
1. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals ($8,500)
2. Spencer Ware, Kansas City Chiefs ($6,100)
Some form of exposure to the Arizona offense is a good idea since they have the highest projected total on the board. Arizona packed it in for the regular season finale, which ended up meaning nothing for their playoff seeding. As a result, their regulars have had almost two weeks of rest heading into this playoff contest. That extra week of rest often helps, especially with running backs. Green Bay’s defense also finished the season ranked 29th in the NFL in yards per carry allowed. That’s bad news against a great runner like David Johnson. Did I mention that he can catch passes too? Johnson had 88 receiving yards in the first meeting between these two teams. Simply put, he’s tough to fade in any format.
Spencer Ware has taken a fairly firm grasp on the top running back spot for Kansas City, but he is dealing with an ankle injury that has kept him out of practice so far this week. It sounds like he is going to be fine for the game on Saturday but make sure to monitor his status as the week goes on. Kansas City is going to have to rely on the ground game to eat up clock in this road contest, and they will likely be without their leading wide receiver in Jeremy Maclin, who suffered a high ankle sprain last week. Ware could be a sneaky value play at a cheap price tag, or you could pivot to Charcandrick West if Ware is unable to suit up because of his injury.
Good luck figuring out which one of the two Denver running backs to take on your roster. I can never seem to peg them correctly, but there should be some success for Denver’s offense this weekend. If Pittsburgh is unable to move the ball because of all their injuries, Denver may be able control the time of possession and establish the run. Both Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson are extremely cheap, and this could be a value play that unlocks the key to success in a GPP. The problem lies in choosing correctly between the two, as the workload is basically a 50/50 split right now.
One to avoid
1. Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers ($6,300)
It sounds like Jonathan Stewart is healthy for the most part, but I don’t expect him to find much success this weekend. He will be facing a solid Seattle defense that has been stifling against opposing running backs all year long. They led the league in fewest rushing yards allowed in the regular season, and the Carolina offense will likely run through Cam Newton this week.