You made it. It’s finally the fantasy football championship week and it doesn’t matter how you got here. Maybe you had a unique knack for playing teams at the right time or engineered a savvy early-season trade. Perhaps your opponent lost Antonio Brown to a leg injury last week. Or was it that genius Week 2 pickup of Alvin Kamara?
Whatever the case may be, all that matters are that there is one game — and no excuses — left.
If you’ve rolled through the playoffs to the title game, chances are good you pretty much know what your starting lineup is going to look like – your studs and whatever other healthy players you have left. This is not the time to get cute and overthink things. You might want to leave any 49ers you have on the bench against the Jaguars. Sorry, Jimmy Garoppolo. And with Aaron Rodgers back on IR, you probably won’t get too much from your Packers against the Vikings this Saturday. Beyond that, there don’t appear other ominous matchups to avoid. Pay attention to the weather, though.
If you lost the aforementioned Brown last week and still made the championship game, unfortunately there is no way of replacing his production floor. In the absence of bench depth at wideout, your best bet is to swing for the fences with a free agent like Keelan Cole, Jaydon Mickens, Martavis Bryant or Kenny Golladay.
This week, fantasy owners welcome back Ezekiel Elliott from suspension to face the remnants of the Seahawks defense. Did you reach the championship round without him or did you bow out early? Considering the devastation Todd Gurley inflicted on Seattle this past Sunday, any team with Elliott in a title game should be installed as the favorite.
The most interesting potential starter of the week is Jaguars suddenly hot quarterback Blake Bortles. Two months ago, the concept of using Bortles in a fantasy lineup was laughable and borderline grounds to forcibly remove an owner from a league for mismanagement or collusion to throw the game. However, Mr. December has multiple touchdown passes in three straight games and has averaged 301 yards passing in the three games. None of it in garbage time. If you lost Carson Wentz two weeks ago or were banking on Rodgers exacting revenge against the Vikings, Bortles might be your top option. Seriously. The 49ers defense he’ll be facing has allowed multiple touchdown passes in eight of its past nine games.
Fantasy football can be weird, man.
Good luck and May the Force be with you to everyone in their championship games! Hopefully it won’t be decided on a fluky, complete-the-process and survive-the-ground controversy. If you fall short, be a good sport and congratulate the winner.
Now then, for everyone looking for a last shot of fantasy football redemption via daily fantasy this weekend, I give you my favorite DFS values of the weekend.
QB Blake Bortles, Jaguars (at 49ers)
I already supplied ample reasons above why Bortles makes sense this week as a plug-in championship game quarterback. Another situation in which he makes sense is when there are 10 quarterbacks in the Sunday slate of games alone that will cost you more on Fanball.
Tion Green, Lions (at Bengals)
Theo Riddick left the Lions’ Week 15 game with another wrist injury and Green was the next man up, ahead of Ameer Abdullah. As the week plays out, be sure to monitor the situation because Green could become a “new” starting running back in Week 16 and that doesn’t happen very often. His price makes him a roster fit in just about any configuration you build.
Jarvis Landry, Dolphins (at Chiefs)
Only four defenses have allowed at least 16 wide receiver touchdowns and only five have ceded 2,300 or more yards to the position. The Chiefs are on both of those esteemed lists. Landry has become Jay Cutler’s favorite receiver in recent weeks, scoring twice against the Patriots in Week 14 and catching 10 passes for 99 yards last week against the Bills. Only DeAndre Hopkins (168) and Antonio Brown (163) have more targets than Landry (144) this season. This is a prime matchup at any price.
Doug Baldwin, Seahawks (at Cowboys)
Russell Wilson and Baldwin should be able to do some damage against a Dallas defense that has permitted three of the past four No. 1 receivers they have faced to score at least one touchdown. Most of the DFS contests this week are separated by day, and in the Sunday group of games on Fanball, Baldwin is 17th in price amongst wideouts – just ahead of Marquise Goodwin, who faces the Jaguars. This feels like a good value.
QB Jared Goff, Rams (at Titans)
I’m not sure what kind of algorithm Draft Kings uses to price their players, but I’m glad it spat out such a low one for Goff this week. He costs less than Alex Smith and Nick Foles to put things in context. Don’t let the Titans’ numbers against quarterbacks in recent weeks fool you. The past four quarterbacks they have faced (Jacoby Brissett, Tom Savage, Blaine Gabbert and Jimmy Garoppolo) combined to throw two touchdown passes. However, two of those guys threw for over 350 yards. Oh and prior to the past month, Tennessee allowed six quarterbacks to throw multiple touchdown passes – including three of them who tossed four touchdowns. So yeah, I’ll take my chances with bargain-bin Goff, who has thrown multiple touchdowns in six of his past seven games and leads the highest-scoring team in the league into the Nashville.
RB LeSean McCoy, Bills (at Patriots)
Check this out: this is only the sixth time in 16 weeks that McCoy’s price has been under $8,000 on DraftKings. The last two times, he topped 100 yards rushing. Plus, he has scored four touchdowns in those six games. I’m not sure what his ownership percentages looked like in those games, but it might not matter. I like this matchup against the Patriots, against whom he averaged 6.2 yards per carry and totaled 93 yards three weeks ago.
RB Devonta Freeman, Falcons (at Saints)
This one is pretty simple. It looks like Tevin Coleman could miss another game due to his concussion. His absence last week led to Freeman getting 27 touches for 194 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown against Tampa Bay. Two weeks ago, against the Saints (with a healthy Coleman), Freeman had 91 rushing yards and a touchdown. I’m not sure why DraftKings has him priced just outside the top 10 running backs but it works for me.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers (at Texans)
With Brown sidelined, Smith-Schuster is the new No. 1 wide receiver for the Steelers. He filled the role nicely last week against the Patriots with six receptions and 114 yards. His salary shot up to a season-high on DraftKings this week, which I suppose means that others in the industry won’t view this as a value. But I do. There are still 12 wide receivers who will cost you more, and few of them have this kind of opportunity against a Texans defense that has ceded the third-most fantasy points to wide receivers.
QB Dak Prescott, Cowboys (vs. Seahawks)
In the Sunday slate of games, there are 10 quarterbacks that will cost you more than Prescott. With Elliott back, the Cowboys have their full complement of weapons and that will obviously help Dak exploit this beat up Seahawks defense. In the six games without Elliott, Prescott threw five touchdown passes and ran for two more scores. In the eight games with Elliott at the start of the season, Prescott had 16 touchdown passes and four rushing touchdowns. Zeke makes everything go.
RB Dion Lewis, Patriots (vs. Bills)
If you’ve been paying attention this long, crazy season, you know that the Bills have degenerated into the worst defense in the NFL at stopping running backs. And now that the Patriots have one less running back mouth to feed in their stable due to the knee injury to Rex Burkhead, Lewis is an attractive play – especially at a moderate price like this.
WR Mohamed Sanu, Falcons (at Saints)
Two weeks ago, against the Saints, Sanu had six receptions for 83 yards (second-highest total of the season) and a touchdown. Don’t expect the Falcons (who beat the Saints) to stray too much from the blueprint (Julio Jones also had a nice game) in a must-win game for both teams. If the Saints change things up, it won’t be to focus more on Sanu and less on Jones. This week, Jones is the highest-priced wide receiver in the FanDuel Sunday games, while you’ll need to scroll down a while to find Sanu at 31.
TE Ricky Seals-Jones, Cardinals (vs. Giants)
On FanDuel, 12 tight ends in the Sunday lineup of games will cost you more than Seals-Jones, who hasn’t done much since Thanksgiving. Well now that Christmas is upon us, it’s the perfect time for RSJ to leave a touchdown in your stocking against a Giants defense that hands out touchdowns to tight ends like a Mall Santa hands out candy canes to children.
Anthony Maggio, John Tuvey and Bo Mitchell co-host the 1500ESPN Fantasy Football Party podcast. Don’t act like you’re not impressed.
Maggio hosted Fantasy Football Sunday on 1500ESPN from 2012-2013 and is the Fantasy Football Editor at Zoneblitz.com. Mitchell is the head of Editorial and Rosters for the US Headquarters of Sportradar. And Tuvey is Senior NFL Analyst and Director of Content for Fanball, a SportsHub Technologies company. All three wise men are kind of big deals and have homes that smell of rich mahogany, myrrh and frankincense.
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