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Daily Fantasy Football: Championship Round DraftDay Value Plays

Try your damndest to treat NFL’s Championship Week as daily fantasy methadone, helping you come down from the sustained 19-week high of creating hundreds of lineups in all manner of contests.

Shane Vereen, daily fantasy football
Shane Vereen, daily fantasy football

Dec 29, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen (34) runs up field against the Buffalo Bills during the second half of New England’s 34-20 win at Gillette Stadium. Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Think of it as last call for daily fantasy football degenerates.

There aren’t many hopeless daily gamers left at this dingy bar, here in the wee hours of the morning. The bartender is packing away the booze, wiping down the bar top, and giving the side eye to the remaining crowd looking for one more chance at daily glory.

And maybe a beer. Just one more.

Try your damndest to treat NFL’s Championship Week as daily fantasy methadone, helping you come down from the sustained 19-week high of creating hundreds of lineups in all manner of contests. Investing heavily in this week’s lineups is a fool’s errand: with four teams remaining, there simply aren’t enough options remaining to find edges on your opponents.

If you’ve never played daily fantasy football on championship weekend — many fled to the daily space after their re-draft leagues ended a month ago — you’ll be shocked to see just how similar your lineups will be to others. You’ll be pinning your daily fantasy hopes and dreams on a player or two in almost every contest.

Let’s take a look at DraftDay value plays before this bar closes down and we’re sent home for the next eight months to sober up and prepare for making our daily fantasy millions in 2014.

Player Projected points
Peyton Manning 25.2
Tom Brady 20.7
Russell Wilson 15.5
Colin Kaepernick 14

 

  • You’ll find it exceedingly difficult to piece together a viable Championship Week DraftDay lineup with Manning at the helm. He eats up 23 percent of your salary, forcing you to scrape the bottom of the barrel on at least one other position. I don’t think there’s any reason to anticipate the insane game flow of the Patriots-Broncos apocalyptic Week 12 show down, when New England let Denver have anything and everything on the ground while selling out to stop the pass. Manning completed just 19 passes for 150 yards in that one (he saved his fantasy day with two scores). Only four defenses were more generous to quarterbacks from the Patriots this season, when adjusted for strength of schedule.
  • Investing in Brady will allow for a far more balanced lineup on DraftDay. Ol’ Tommy requires just 18.5 percent of your lineup salary. Rolling with Brady also allows for more stacking options with his various pass catchers. Just try to stack Manning with Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, or Julius Thomas and watch how you’ll have to skimp everywhere else. Brady nuked the occasionally-awful Denver secondary in Week 12, throwing for 344 yards and three scores during three quarters in catch-up mode. I’m guessing the Patriots noticed what an easy time the Charges had through the air after Denver cornerback Chris Harris went down to a season-ending knee injury last week. The run-heavy Patriots could be considerably more air-prone in this one. Denver opponents have called pass on 64 percent of plays this year.
  • I’d much prefer Wilson over Kaepernick, since you’re only saving a measly $950 by rolling with Kaep over Brady. Throwing against the death trap that is the Seahawks’ secondary is firmly in don’t-tug-on-Superman’s-cape territory, as Seattle gives up an eye-popping 8.6 adjusted fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. You’re praying to the daily fantasy gods for a rushing score — or two — if you go with Kaepernick.

 

Player Projected points
Shane Vereen 15.1
LaGarrette Blount 11.6
Frank Gore 11.3
Montee Ball 8.9
Stevan Ridley 5.8

 

  • Blount is available for a full $4,000 more than Vereen this week, meaning the New England backs have flipped salaries from one week to the next. The Pats — or any other team — won’t score six touchdowns on the ground very often, as they did against the ghost of the Colts’ defense. Blount has no involvement in the passing game, so if you trust Vegas odds makers — who project this one for 55.5 points — you might hedge on Blount. He was a screaming value last week. That’s no longer the case. He’ll need a hefty stat line to meet his DraftDay salary.
  • Vereen had 10 rushes for 31 yards and eight receptions for 60 yards against the Broncos in Week 12 — an easy 17.1 fantasy points on DraftDay. Vereen’s day could’ve been much bigger: he had two cringe-worthy drops against Denver. Don’t be fooled by Vereen playing a meager 24 offensive snaps last week against Indy. There was hardly any need for his services with Blount and Ridley gouging the squishy Colts’ front seven.
  • Ball is averaging 11 touches per contest over Denver’s past seven games, including 10 carries last week against the Chargers for a healthy 52 yards. Patriots defensive tackle Sealver Siliga has improved the team’s run defense by leaps and bounds since Knowshon Moreno went for 224 yards on 37 carries against New England seven weeks ago. Ball, DraftDay’s seventh highest-salaried running back, won’t have to do much to justify his cost.
Player Projected points
Golden Tate 13.5
Danny Amendola 13.4
Anquan Boldin 12.8
Michael Crabtree 12.1
  •  The 49ers’ defense, as I mentioned last week, gives up a surprising amount of PPR production to opposing receivers (sixth most schedule-adjusted points to the position during the regular season). Tate was hardly a factor in either regular season matchup against San Francisco — catching seven balls for 84 scoreless yards in two games — but I think he’s worth a shot this week with so few cash-saving options at receiver. He’s DraftDay’s ninth most expensive receiver, somehow $2,400 less than teammate and walking injury Percy Harvin.
  • Priced neck and neck with Harvin, Amendola could be a major beneficiary of a more pass-heavy attack if — or when — the AFC title bout goes the way Vegas says it will. One thing that bothers me: Amendola has played 57 percent of the Pats’ offensive snaps over their past four games — a shockingly low percentage considering Aaron Dobson’s injury-related absence. Amendola, who did almost nothing during the Week 12 title against Denver, will get a fantasy boost should Kenbrell Thompkins miss the game after suffering a head injury early in the Divisional Round contest against the Colts.
Player Projected points
Julius Thomas 13.9
Vernon Davis 10.2
Zach Miller 6.6
  •  Selecting a tight end this week is a simple exercise: The Patriots don’t use their tight ends, leaving us with three options. Considering Zach Miller is primarily a blocker in the Seahawks’ decidedly run heavy offense, we only have two options. One of those options, Davis, faces off against a defense ranked 13th against tight ends, while the other, Orange Julius, gets his crack at the third-worst defense against enemy tight ends. Thomas is the play here at a measly $600 more than Davis.
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