Limited daily fantasy football slates, more than the full buffet of games we have on a regular season Sunday, call for selectivity in which games we believe will turn into offensive back and forth affairs. Last week’s Wild Card round was no different.
Largely fading skill position players in the Cardinals-Panthers tilt — projected by Vegas to be last week’s lowest scoring game — while targeting players in the Cowboys-Lions and Colts-Bengals games proved key in finding oneself in the money come Sunday night.
Predicting game flow is nothing short of a fool’s errand, but using Vegas projections to determine complementary plays should be the basis of our Divisional Round daily fantasy decision making. This was why we rolled with Steve Smith, Sr., and Martavis Bryant last week — they were two cheap options going against soft secondaries that had been gouged by opposing passers for the better part of two months. If one offense took advantage of that vulnerability, the other would have to as well.
Victiv uses a salary cap system that forces daily gamers to think twice about investing in the week’s biggest names that cost several times the price of sneakier options.
Victiv’s pricing is based on projections that have proven more accurate than some of the fantasy industry’s most renowned prognosticators. Here are guys I’m using and avoiding in Divisional Round playoff lineups. My tournament lineup is posted below the analysis.
Aaron Rodgers ($11,600) vs. Dallas Cowboys: Rodgers, who demands 23.3 percent of your lineup budget, certainly has a hefty floor in this one, but I think it’s easy to overlook why he might come with a somewhat capped ceiling against the Cowboys. Both Dallas and Green Bay are in the top five in average length of offensive drives, meaning both teams are capable of grinding down the clock. The Packers and Cowboys give up 4.4 and 4.3 yards per carry, respectively, making it a decent bet that each team can — and perhaps will — attack the other via the run game. I see this tilt shaping up as a 21-17 game rather than a 65-point shootout between two aerial attacks packed with talent. I can’t justify deploying Rodgers in a tourney lineup.
Andrew Luck ($10,200) at Denver Broncos: Luck would be the only quarterback play for me this week if the Broncos’ offense was the pass-happy, uptempo attack it was two short months ago. It’s a grinding, run-based offense now, led by C.J. Anderson, so Luck’s prospects aren’t quite as rosy. Still, at his cost — a full $1,400 less than Rodgers — I’m finding it tough to find reasons not to use Luck against Denver. Opponents averaged 43.3 pass attempts per contest against the Broncos at home in 2014. Indianapolis has no run game of which to speak. Luck, who managed 370 yards, two passing scores and a running touchdown against Denver in Week 1, will be locked into my tournament lineups. Denver, after all, allows the seventh most schedule-adjusted fantasy points to opposing signal callers.
Justin Forsett ($6,200) at New England Patriots: Forsett might look appealing as a workhorse runner priced in the third tier of Victiv’s running back options. I’m wary. New England allows the seventh fewest schedule-adjusted points to running backs, tied with Seattle’s defense. Probably I’d be bullish on Forsett if he were guaranteed goal line touches. He’s not, however, as we saw last week in Pittsburgh. Only eight teams allow fewer yards per carry than the Patriots. I’m avoiding Forsett in Victiv tournaments.
Dan Herron ($7,600) at Denver Broncos: Herron’s Vicitv price skyrocketed after his big-time stat line against the Bengals. The best part about Herron’s prospects: He could rush for something like 30 yards and still score upwards of 20 fantasy points thanks to his pass game involvement. He snagged 10 passes for 81 yards against Cincy — good for 13.1 points all by itself. Herron is locked in as the Colts’ goal line runner too, ensuring touchdown upside against Denver this week. Herron, $500 cheaper than Marshawn Lynch and $600 less than Eddie Lacy, I see the Colts’ lead running back as an arbitrage play on this week’s elite backs.
Demaryius Thomas ($8,100) vs. Indianapolis Colts: Thomas somehow managed top-10 receiver numbers even as the Broncos slowly but surely shifted to a run-heavy attack. He still saw 11.4 targets per game. He averaged 90 receiving yards per contest. I’m finding it tough to make DT the basis of my Divisional Round lineups, however, as I believe several second and third tier options have an equal of better fantasy ceiling. It would hardly be a shock to see Denver attack the Colts on the ground. Indy is allowing 24.5 schedule-adjusted fantasy points to runners. I’m much more willing to go in on Anderson than on Thomas.
Brandon LaFell ($5,700) vs. Baltimore Ravens: Our usage of LaFell is of course contingent on his health, but if he’s a full go against Baltimore, I find him borderline irresistible. He’s fully $800 cheaper than teammate Julian Edelman — who is a must-play should LaFell miss this week’s game — and more than $2,000 cheaper than this week’s top-end receivers. The Pats are expert at attacking opponent’s weaknesses, and the Ravens have proven more than a little susceptible to the pass. Only the Steelers, Dolphins, and Eagles allow more adjusted fantasy points to wideouts. Tom Brady targeted LaFell 8.8 times per game in the season’s second half. If he once again sees that sort of opportunity, I like his chances to finish as a top-3 receiver this week.
Kelvin Benjamin ($4,600) at Seattle Seahawks: This, by far, is the least comfortable recommendation of the week. Seattle opponents barely eclipse 200 passing yards against the Seahawks in the Thunderdome, with the brutal Seattle secondary limiting opponents to an astounding 5.8 yards per pass attempt. Benjamin caught four balls for 94 yards against the Seahawks back in November, offering some hope that the big-bodied wideout can have some success against Richard Sherman and company. It’s worth noting that Benjamin had two brutal drops in that Seattle game — one that would’ve been a touchdown. It’s tough to fade Benjamin at a cost that puts him just above the week’s Hail Mary receiver plays.
Rob Gronkowski ($6,200) vs. Baltimore Ravens: I can’t bring myself to construct a lineup without Gronk. He’s by far the priciest tight end option, but he ranks as 14th most expensive flex option. That’s where I’m playing him this week. Teams haven’t attacked Baltimore via the tight end, but no matter. Gronk, as we’ve seen time and again, is the exception to every rule. He’s a must-play for me, and the centerpiece of a tournament lineup that deploys not one, not two, but three tight ends.
Owen Daniels ($2,900) at New England Patriots: The No. 2 tight end in Gary Kubiak’s offense often steals the touchdown glory, though Daniels — as the No. 1 tight end in said system — has seen a fairly steady share of targets. Daniels caught four of five targets last week against Pittsburgh, notching 70 yards in the Ravens’ victory. The Ravens will have no choice but to take to the air against the Patriots, and with New England’s corners limiting Torrey Smith and Steve Smith, Sr., I see Daniels as a potential high-volume option. Daniels’ price makes him a sensible play in cash games and tournaments alike.
Below is the tourney lineup I’m going to use this week on Victiv…
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