Welcome back to a special edition of the FanDuel Picks, Championship Weekend edition, your one-stop-shop for the best FanDuel player picks. I wish I had a time machine, knowing that both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Jacksonville Jaguars would each score more than the Vegas projected game total (41). Would’ve been quite the fade-play stack move. However, the Patriots stack worked quite well last week (more on that below), and Corey Davis helped put us over the top. It’s the last weekend for FanDuel this year, so hopefully you’ve managed to make millions of dollars (or at least stay green). With a trip to the Super Bowl on the line for each of the four teams this weekend, I expect closely contested contests and the best football of the year. Like last week, I will suggest an entire playable lineup, with some alternative suggestions to help build your team in the best way possible. So, without further ado, to the Championship Weekend Picks!
- Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots ($9,000) – For the 7th consecutive year, and the 12th time overall, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots find themselves in the AFC Championship Game. Let that sink in for a second. If we take out his rookie year in 2000, and the year he missed with injury in 2008, Brady has appeared in the AFCCG in 12 of his 16 season. That means Brady is playing in this game three times every four years. That type of sustained success and excellence is unmatched in almost any sport, excluding the Bill Russell Celtics that won 11 of 13 NBA titles back in the 50s and 60s. Last week the 40 year old threw for 337 yards and 3 touchdowns, leading the Patriots past an overmatched Titans squad. This week presents a much tougher task for Tom against his arch nemesis Tom Coughlin and a ravenous Jacksonville secondary and mean pass rush. And while I know we are comparing apples to apples given the lax type of defense the Jags played against the Steelers while up multiple score, Ben Roethlisberger still threw for 469 yards and 5 scores. Expect Tom to be at his best, and maestro his way to another Super Bowl.
I am going to be honest, I do not like any of the other options really. Blake Bortles ($7,600) could have to throw more on Sunday to keep up with the Patriots, and his legs could provide you a solid floor. But trusting Bortles in an AFCCG sounds like disaster.
- Dion Lewis, RB, New England Patriots ($7,700) – Patriots running backs vultured three touchdowns away from Dion Lewis last week (2 by James White, and 1 by Brandon Bolden). Lewis, however, still dominated touches, targets and yards, totaling 141 yards on 24 touches. Lewis continues to be one of the best receiving backs in all of the NFL, catching 9 of 10 balls for 79 yards, proving his true dual threat nature. Even with Rex Burkhead likely returning for the AFCCG, Lewis remains locked in as the Patriots star rusher, and potentially the most important piece to their quest for a 6th title besides the GOAT above.
- Corey Clement, RB, Philadelphia Eagles ($5,000) – Since we are stacking the Patriots (again), we need to get cheap and creative somewhere. The Vikings boast arguably the league’s best run defense, and showcased that last week against the Saints uber talented rushing duo as they allowed just 80 yards on 24 carries. The Eagles don’t really have the true workhorse that can break games open and beat talented run defenses, so versatile, dual threat runner Corey Clement could be in line for a little extra work on Sunday. In Saturday’s game against the Falcons, Clement caught all 5 of his targets for 31 yards. That could be the type of steady, consistent production Nick Foles and company need to “upset” the Vikings at home.
The only chance the Jaguars have Sunday against the Patriots is if Leonard Fournette ($8,500) goes off like he did last week against the Steelers. And if the Patriots team bus gets a flat tire on the way to the stadium and cannot make kickoff. That would definitely help as well.
- Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings ($7,400) – It is true that Stefon Diggs had the big game and (I am not sure if you heard) the big catch, but Adam Thielen is still the straw that turns the Vikings offensive drink. Thielen caught 6 of 9 targets for 74 yards, continuing in his role as the chain mover for the Vikings plodding attack. The Eagles stout run defense should force Case Keenum into more passing situations, so Thielen could be even more active than usual.
- Danny Amendola, WR, New England Patriots ($6,400) – Mr. Clutch, as I called him last week. Danny Playoff. Whatever you want to call him, it is clear Danny Amendola has becomes deeply ingratiated in the Tom Brady wide receiver / pass catching circle of trust. In his most recent playoff masterpiece, Amendola caught 11 of 13 targets for 112 yards (all team highs). Converting multiple third downs and helping the Pats incrementally move the ball down the field a la Julian Edelman, Amendola looks primed for a huge playoff run as Tom’s #1 wide receiving target. With A.J. Buoye and Jalen Ramsey manning the outside, Amendola could find some openings on the inside at Brady’s security blanket. Although I would not be shocked to see one of them on Danny in key spots.
- Marqise Lee, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars ($6,100) – Let’s take a quick second to talk about what Bill Belichick will focus on in the AFCCG. Well, on the one hand the Jags have Blake Bortles and a bunch of spare part wide receivers. And on the other hand they have one of the best, young, bruising backs in all of football that just trampled over Pittsburgh for 109 yards and 3 touchdowns. Hey, Mike Tomlin, maybe if you spent more time game planning for this week than the next week against the Patriots you would’ve figured out which aspect to focus on first. Always prepared, Belichick will sell out to stop the run game, forcing Bortles to throw more often. Marqise Lee, the Jags most consistent wideout this year, should be the primary beneficiary of the Pats gameplan, so hope he can take advantage of an increase in volume and a lot of one-on-one situations.
Sure, A.J. Bouye may be one of the most talented corners in the NFL, but Antonio Brown made Bouye look human, torching him for his first two touchdowns of the season. Brandin Cooks ($7,000) does not have Brown’s talent, but he does have his speed, and maybe more if he gets Bouye in the AFC Title Game.
- Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots ($8,400) – In last week’s rout of the Titans, Rob Gronkowski smashed Tennessee to the tune of 6/81/1 touchdown. Once he got rolling the in the second half, no one could stop the Brady-Grok show, proving to everyone once again that Gronk may be the single most uncoverable player in the entire sport. The Jags have been susceptible agains the tight end all year, and we saw that again last week as Big Ben connected with Vance McDonald on 10 of 16 targets for 112 yards. If that is what McDonald can do against Jacksonville, then goodness gracious let me get the body bags ready for delivery to Gillette.
While Kyle Rudolph and Zach Ertz are talented tight ends, their matchups do not profile all that well, so it is tough justifying their high prices. I would not take anyone besides Gronk, but if I had to seek an alternate is would be going with the punt play and taking Mercedes Lewis at FanDuel’s lowest price ($4,500).
- Stephen Gostkowski, K, New England Patriots ($5,000) – Have I told you I love the Patriots again this week? Stephen Gostkowski should be lining up the field goals and extra points all Sunday afternoon, giving you a solid floor.
The Jaguars may be able to hold the Patriots to field goals given their great defense, so Josh Lambo‘s leg at $4,600 (the cheapest option) might be a serviceable option.
- Minnesota Vikings DST ($4,900) – Picking the best all around defense against the team with the lowest implied team total (17.25 points) is always a great option. The Minnesota Vikings DST could feast Sunday against a Nick Foles led Eagles team. Against the Atlanta Falcons, the Eagles mustered only 15 points and 334 yards of total offense. And while the Eagles managed to escape Saturday with the all important W, toppling the Vikings will be a much toucher task.
I personally think the Vikings win Sunday in Philadelphia, but if you like the Eagles, the Philadelphia Eagles DST is $100 less than Minnesota at $4,800.
And that’s a wrap for Fanduel Championship Weekend analysis. Remember to always look at the matchups and Vegas totals, which are always telling, and do not be afraid to admit they know more than you, because they usually do. Until next time, good luck and don’t forget to tip me 10% of your earnings. Thanks in advance.