Still here? We salute you. The fantasy itch clearly never leaves you, and we’ll continue feeding it. After arguably the wildest division round in NFL history, we’ve now landed on the semifinals. Hence, we present our Conference Championships Fantasy Football Rankings.
In general, DFS and Fantasy are a complete crapshoot with only four teams playing. Winning a tournament often requires finding the $2500 guy who scores a meager TD (re: Mercedes Lewis this week). You also must correctly project game flows. Plus, if one player blows up and you don’t own him… forget about it. There’s no ground to be made here.
Find my rankings below, and quick blurbs on how I expect the games to unfold (including, of course, relevant fantasy details).
Conference Championship Fantasy Football Rankings
- Adam Thielen ($7400) reportedly suffered back fractures versus the Saints last week, and is in “an extreme amount of pain.” Though he’ll suit up, he’s now become a bench candidate for me given his price point. Meanwhile, Stefon Diggs ($6900) becomes a near must-play, as the Vikings vs. Eagles corners is by far the best matchup on the board. They’ve been getting destroyed on the outside lately. Kyle Rudolph‘s ($4500) touchdown appeal also rises.
- Though all this Tom Brady hand news will likely turn out to be nothing, I already believed the Patriots would be attacking this funnel defense with the backs and Gronk. Now, they’ll be even more critical and I’m even more convinced Dion Lewis ($8100) + the right selection of Rex Burkhead ($5400) or James White ($4900) will be the winning recipe. Determining which of those two receives the goalline and passing down snaps will be crucial and is near impossible. Burkhead has held it whenever on the field, but White showed well and has become a Patriots Postseason Legend as of late. The head tells me Burkhead, but the gut screams White continues to roll the scores. Good luck determining which!
Projected Game Flow / Matchup Breakdown
Prediction: Patriots 30 vs. Jaguars 21
Even against stout opponents like the Jags, the Patriots consistently find the one or two ways to genuinely exploit a defense and pepper this hole. Maybe this will be out of the slot with Danny “Playoffs” Amendola ($5500). Perhaps, as Antonio Brown did on Sunday, the answer is testing them deep with Brandin Cooks ($6100) and Chris Hogan ($5000). Or, as I see the likely approach, the Patriots will dominate the middle of the field via the backs and Rob Gronkowski ($7900). Regardless, Bill Belichick will find where they are weak, and at least one or two Patriots will dominate in volume. The Steelers tossed on over 40 Points, and the Patriots should have a stronger game plan to at least match this output.
Rex Burkhead ($5400) is expected to return, and immediately is one of my favorite DraftKings starts at his price point given his role and high quality usage (re: TDs and catches). Siphoning goal line looks and receptions, Burkhead does lessen the appeal of Dion Lewis ($8100), though Lewis managed to dump out nearly 30 FPs for the third straight week despite avoiding the end zone. He’s the engine of this attack and should rack up 15-20 touches and 18-20 FPs as the most attractive back in this weekend’s slate. Additionally, James White ($4900) is coming off a monster 2 TD day, but sees over 3 touches less per game when Burkhead is involved, and likely would not have been so involved at the stripe if Burkhead was in the lineup.
Just as he’ll attack a single weakness on offense, Belichick will also sell out to stop a team’s “engine.” For the Jaguars, this is clearly their run game and Leonard Fournette ($7200). While he is the clearest bet for an end zone plod, I also could see him getting completely erased, making him a DFS fade for me this week. He’ll likely be highly owned, and zigging away here could be just as important as landing the right sleeper.
Consequently, I’m actually going all-in on Blake Bortles ($5000). Barring some huge defensive plays early, Bortles is bound to be playing catch-up. He’s shown the ability to toss enormous yardage totals even when making mistakes, and I’m envisioning an effort similar to Week 16 versus SF, where Bortles chucked 381 yards, 2 TDs, and 3 Ints. Even if he shits his pants, Bortles has a real shot to lead all signal callers in FPs while saving you premium dollars.
Where exactly this volume will go, however, is truly anybody’s guess. This pass-catching crew has become even more difficult to predict with Marquise Lee ($4400) and Allen Hurns ($3300) returning. I like Lee as the safest bet for receptions and yardage, while Keelan Cole ($3500) drips in huge upside for tournaments. Of course, this means Dede Westbrook ($3900) or Hurns will be the one to explode — it’s truly anyone’s guess. Don’t forget TJ Yeldon ($4200) for flexes — he could be a dump-off aficionado for dirt cheap. Plus, if Fournette’s ankle flares up, you’ve got even more volume.
Vikings 21 vs. Eagles 10
Despite being on the road, I think the Vikings swallow the Eagles whole and roll pretty easily — their showdown with the Saints was truly the NFC championship. In a battle of Jeff Fisher escapees, Case Keenum ($6600) earns the nod because he’s simply been starting longer and has far better chemistry. Though stout, the Eagles defense is also more exploitable than the Vikings, especially at the WR position. Julio Jones is fresh off a 10 catch, 100+ yard day and had been increasingly susceptible versus the pass. Thus, I love stacking both Adam Thielen ($7400) and Stefon Diggs ($6900) as the clear top-2 WR plays this weekend. Even if Bortles can outscore Keenum for cheaper, at least we know where the Vikings receiving production will come from. *SEE UPDATE ABOVE – No longer in on Thielen**
Indeed, the Vikings have been motored by their strong RB tandem of Latavius Murray ($5700) and Jerick McKinnon ($5100), but the Eagles are the stoutest team on the ground outside Minnesota itself. If any of the two, Murray is the best bet to breakthrough for a score, and I don’t think gameflow will particularly favor McKinnon after the WRs help build an early lead. I’m fading these guys for the New England backfield.
On the Eagles side, I don’t love anyone here. Nick Foles ($4800) is only $200 less than Bortles, but comes with far less ceiling or even floor. Meanwhile, Xavier Rhodes has been an absolute blanket, and he’s likely to shut down top WR Alshon Jeffery ($4600) throughout the day — I don’t trust Foles to throw Jeffery open against this elite talent. The run defense is also nearly impregnable, surrendering the fewest FPs to RBs and just stifling the ground game of the Saints. I’m avoiding Jay Ajayi ($5200) and LeGarrette Blount ($3700), as I feel there’ll be no room to roam here. Conversely, if I’m looking for a cheap dart throw to round out a roster, Corey Clement ($3100) is fresh off a 5 catch day, and for only $3100 the 8.1 he racked up last week wouldn’t be useless with so little to choose from.
If there’s anyone I’m willing to roll out from Philly, it’d be Nelson Agholor ($4800). In the slot, the Vikings primarily use 39-year-old Terence Newman, who got roasted by Michael Thomas on an endzone slant, and Newman doesn’t have the quicks to keep up with Agholor. I could see him getting deep.
Agree with these rankings? Where is The Wolf insane? Any chance New England or Minnesota are upset? Sound off below!