With a four game slate this weekend, there is still plenty of fun to be had in fantasy football particularly for daily gamers – we use Draft Street around these parts, and they are still running their free rolls throughout the playoffs, so if you’re interested in checking it out, do so here. If you’re working in other formats, here are a few players worthy of consideration to start and sit this week.
Wild Card QB Starts
Andy Dalton vs. San Diego – $14,606 (QB4) – I have Dalton ranked as my top Quarterback this week, so clearly I see a gap in terms of cost vs. value this week, and for me the logic is simple. Dalton (and his Bengals) are strong at home, while San Diego has defended the pass poorly this season. Dalton threw for just one score and 190 yards against the Chargers not long ago, but that was a road game and the difference between his performance at home and away is stark – Dalton owns a 20:9 TD:INT ratio this season at Paul Brown Stadium.
Wild Card QB Sits
Drew Brees at Philadelphia – $18,013 (QB1) – I’m about as big an advocate for playing the matchup as they come, and I recognize that Philadelphia has yielded the 7th most fantasy points to opposing QBs on the season, including a league high 4907 passing yards. However, Brees has been as bad on the road this season as Dalton has been at home, he’s the owner of a 12:9 TD:INT ratio on the road, including a 9:7 mark outdoors. We’re looking at a game time temperature of 25 degrees this week, and I think Brees will fall flat. Also, with Pierre Thomas ruled out for this game it takes away a major weapon – the RB is Brees’ second leading receiver this year with 77 receptions, and his presence will be missed in both the run and pass games.
Wild Card RB Starts
Eddie Lacy vs. San Francisco – $10,456 (RB3) – While we’re on the subject of the weather, it is going to be awfully cold on Sunday in Green Bay. With a game time temperature forecast somewhere around 0, with the wind chill making things even worse. I don’t like Colin Kaepernick much in that weather either, for what its worth. I do like Lacy. He was the 3rd leading scorer league wide from Week 8 on this year and has been a consistent producer regardless of matchup. He’s back at practice and good to go, after having run well through his ankle injury in recent weeks. The cold may cause an issue for it, but it should also mean that Green Bay turns to the run early and often in a game that will be fought in the trenches. I like the Packers to adjust better to a frigid game in their home stadium, and to ride Lacy (rather than Rodgers) to a win.
Donald Brown vs. Kansas City – $7,186 (RB7) – Kansas City’s run defense has struggled considerably in the second half of the season and they’ll find themselves on the road against Indianapolis with Tambi Hali either out of the lineup, or at less than 100%. Brown is fresh off a Week 16 performance that saw him gash the Chiefs for 110 total yards and two scores, and while I’m not projecting an effort quite that impressive, it stands to reason that he can produce against them again and should factor in as a significant part of the Colts’ gameplan.
Bonus: With Pierre Thomas unavailable, Mark Ingram should have a higher than usual value. He can be had cheap, too, at just $4,204 and he has produced 90+ total yards in both games where he has had 10+ touches. Sproles is the top back in New Orleans in terms of expected contributions, but Ingram can be had much more cost efficiently and is due for a spike in workload. This will be the first time that Thomas has missed a full game all year, so it is hard to know exactly how the workload will shake out in his absence, and Khiry Robinson will factor in a bit, but don’t discount Ingram who rushed for an impressive 4.9 YPC in limited work this year.
Wild Card RB Sit
Giovani Bernard vs. San Diego – $9,304 (RB5) – There is a case to be made for Gio this week against San Diego, particularly if the snow/rain comes to fruition, but I think that the slop work may tilt toward BenJarvus Green-Ellis and I’ll note that San Diego has given up the 11th fewest points to opposing RBs this season. Bernard, meanwhile, is slumping into the playoffs with three straight games held under three yards per carry. While work as a receiver tends to buoy his low rushing numbers, his efficiency suggests to me that he may be tiring after his first pro season and that is a situation at like to avoid at his cost this week.
Wild Card WR Starts
Keenan Allen at Cincinnati – $8,632 (WR8) – The rookie receiver really turned it on after the team’s bye this season, and finished as the 12th best fantasy scorer at his position over his final eight games. Last time out against Cincinnati, he was a big part of the gameplan with ten targets and eight receptions for over 100 yards. I expect him to see a similar workload this week as San Diego and Philip Rivers put their playoff hopes in his hands, with a chance to score this time out. Cincinnati has given up the second most touchdowns to WRs over the last four weeks (seven) and is dealing with a depleted secondary.
If you’re into buying Packers, James Jones can be had $2,800 cheaper than Randall Cobb who impressed in his debut last week but drew just two targets. I like Cobb this week, but would be inclined to roll with Jones at the reduced rate.
Wild Card WR Sits
Anquan Boldin at Green Bay – $9,742 (WR5) – Boldin has fared well with Michael Crabtree back in the lineup, but is 11 spots behind his teammate in terms of fantasy production (32 vs. 21) over the last three weeks, now that the younger receiver is back up to speed. Again, I’m not sure that San Francisco will produce much in the passing game this week and if they do so, I like it to go through Crabtree rather than Boldin, plain and simple. He’ll cost you $1,650 less, too.
Jarrett Boykin is tempting, with a price tag under $4,000, but most of Randall Cobb’s snaps came at his expense last week, and with the assumption that Cobb increases his workload (participating in just under 50% of the team’s offensive plays last week), I think Boykin’s role will further decline.
Wild Card TE Start
Jimmy Graham at Philadelphia – $12,253 (TE1) – Graham will cost you almost 50% more than any other TE this week, but he’s worth it. In an odd situation, no one has a good matchup in terms of Tight End scoring this week, with everyone but the Packers ranking in the bottom 12 in terms of points allowed to TEs. Re: the Packers, Vernon Davis has drawn just 18 targets since Week 14 (Crabtree’s return to utility) and while he has three touchdowns during that span, I don’t think that he’ll get the volume he needs to produce against Green Bay. That leaves Graham as the surest thing at the position, and therefore worthy of your investment.
Andrew Quarless is a cost-effective option, at $2,793 and while Aaron Rodgers was able to connect with him just two times last week, he did give him six targets. He’s a risky option, but has a chance to turn a profit if the catch rate comes up a bit this week.
Wild Card TE Sit
Jermaine Gresham vs. San Diego – $5,011 (TE6) – Gresham is likely to go this weekend despite being limited in practice this week and missing last weekend’s game against the Ravens, but beware the big man with the balky hamstring. If he isn’t close to 100% he won’t get much separation, and may find himself playing behind Tyler Eifert this week.
Wild Card Value DST
Indianapolis Colts vs. Kansas City -$5,131 (DST3) – The Colts are actually the fourth highest scoring defense in terms of fantasy points participating in this weekends games, but they are well positioned to outperform their #3 cost. Kansas City has been a tough unit to score against this season, but Indy comes in after having posted 17 points against them two weeks ago including six sacks against Alex Smith. In three career games against Indy, Alex Smith owns a 41.5 QB Rating, his lowest against any team and he has thrown 6 interceptions (his highest against anyone). I expect the trend to continue this week.