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Fantasy Football: It’s Playoff Time!

Sep 25, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) is sacked by Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen (97) in the fourth quarter. The Vikings defeated the Panthers 22-10 at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Maggio, John Tuvey and Bo Mitchell will be here all season delivering the edge you need to dominate your fantasy football league. Visit 1500espn.com each Wednesday for a new column and each Thursday for a new episode of the Fantasy Football Party podcast.

I’d like to begin with some hearty congratulations to all those who made the playoffs in their fantasy football leagues. Cheers!

Wipe away the regular-season records because anything can happen now, and it often does. The typical mantra heading into the fantasy football playoffs is to “start your studs” and not overthink it. However, that isn’t prudent or even possible in all cases this week, starting with a certain Patriots tight end.

Hurdle No. 1 for a lot of owners this week will be finding a replacement for Rob Gronkowski, who was suspended for his stupid and dangerous elbow drop (or whatever WWE move it was) against a Bills player on Sunday. I have the Gronk predicament in one of my dynasty leagues. Fortunately, my backup is Evan Engram and he has a decent matchup against Dallas at home with Eli Manning back under center. There’s a small chance Engram was dropped in your league last week when Eli was benched. If so, do what you can to scoop him up. Problem solved. Assuming Engram is rostered, as he is in most leagues, your best waiver wire tight end targets include the following:

Jason Witten against that porous Giants defense that’s been the worst in the league against tight ends.

Hunter Henry against the Washington defense that’s been pretty darn bad against tight ends (four touchdowns allowed in the past five games).

Austin Seferian-Jenkins against a Broncos defense that’s been surprisingly bad against tight ends (five touchdowns allowed in the past six games).

Rookie David Njoku is available in 90 percent of leagues and is coming off his best game (with Josh Gordon drawing all the attention from the defense). He faces the Packers, whose impressive defensive metrics against tight ends are misleading due to poor opponents at the position and three touchdowns allowed to tight ends over the past two games.

Another quandary some playoff-bound fantasy owners are facing: whether to start any Carolina players – most notably Cam Newton – against the suffocating Vikings defense. This one is pretty simple for yours truly. I’d bench Cam and all your Panthers. You know how good this Vikings defense has become; even on the road they’re becoming milk-at-the-bottom-of-your-cereal-bowl wonderful. Witness what they just did to Matt Ryan and the Falcons. Besides, Newton has just one good fantasy game in his past seven – the four-touchdown explosion against a disinterested Miami team four weeks ago. I’d much rather start Josh McCown against the Broncos, and he is inexplicably available in 60 percent of ESPN.com leagues (more on him in a moment).

Perhaps the stickiest situation of Week 14 is whether to start MVP candidate Russell Wilson and fellow Seahawks like Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham against the only defense that can stand toe-to-toe and metric-for-metric with the Vikings right now: The Jaguars. You can run against the Jags but you can’t pass at all. They rank first in the league against the pass and have allowed the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. However, the only two multiple touchdown pass games the Jaguars have allowed have come in the past four weeks – against Philip Rivers and Blaine Gabbert. Maybe they’re slipping? I would lower expectations but start Wilson as you normally would. Same with Graham, who leads all tight ends with nine touchdowns (all in his last eight games) and leads all NFL players with 23 red-zone targets. Baldwin can be benched. Jacksonville has permitted one wide receiver to top 100 yards against them this season (Antonio Brown) and just three wideout touchdowns.

Those seem to be the biggest dilemmas of the week. If you have others, please hit up me or my podcast co-hosts on Twitter (handles below) and we would be glad to offer an opinion. That’s what we’re here for.

Now, for those of you who didn’t make it to the playoffs in your year-long leagues, let’s look at some of the best DFS values for the week.

DFS Week 14 Values

For DFS players, we provide the best values at QB/RB/WR/TE on a weekly basis, including pricing from Fanball, DraftKings and FanDuel. Good luck!

QB: Josh McCown at Denver

Fanball: $5,700

DraftKings: $6,000

FanDuel: $7,600

Here he is again. McCown won me DFS money again last week. I can’t quit him – not yet anyway. This isn’t the Denver D of recent vintage, either. The Broncos have permitted multiple touchdown passes to the past five quarterbacks they have faced. Meanwhile, McCown has multiple touchdowns (passing and/or running) in seven of his last eight games and has thrown for more than 300 yards in two straight. The only DFS site that seems to believe his stats are real is FanDuel. Take advantage.

QB: Dak Prescott at New York Giants

Fanball: $6,700

DraftKings: $5,600

FanDuel: $7,700

Prescott will cost you less than Brett Hundley ($5,700) on Draft Kings this week. This is not a drill. The price tag at Fanball is enticing, the price at FanDuel? Not as much. But that DK end-cap clearance bin price should prompt you to construct a lineup around him. Prescott rediscovered how to throw touchdown passes last week, which is a good thing. All the attention will be on Eli Manning in this game, but Prescott should toss at least a couple scoring strikes. The Giants are without top corner Janoris Jenkins, opening the door for Dez Bryant to score for the second week in a row – no player in the NFL gets more end zone targets than Dez. In addition, a Jason Witten touchdown is a foregone conclusion… it’s the Giants.

RB: Giovanni Bernard vs. Chicago

Fanball: $3,400

DraftKings: $3,100

FanDuel: $5,100

It would cost you more to start the likes of Terrance West, Zach Zenner and Senorise Perry than Bernard on DraftKings. It would cost more to start Shane Vereen, Charles Sims and Eddie Lacy on Fanball. Folks, Gio is one of the best values at any position this week if Joe Mixon is unable to go following the concussion he suffered on Monday night in their violent game against the Steelers.

RB: LeSean McCoy vs. Indianapolis

Fanball: $8,600

DraftKings: $7,200

FanDuel: $9,000

McCoy looks like a good play this week regardless of price. The Colts defense is fading and now only four teams have allowed more fantasy points to running backs this season. And if Tyrod Taylor’s knee injury keeps him out and Nathan Peterman is forced to start, Shady might see 50 carries (only slightly exaggerating). McCoy will be in a lot of lineups this week, but he should probably be in ALL of your DraftKings lineups at this price.

RB: Marshawn Lynch at Kansas City

Fanball: $6,600

DraftKings: $5,700

FanDuel: $6,400

The last time the Raiders faced the Chiefs back in Week 7, Lynch was tossed out for making contact with a referee and wound up serving a one-game suspension. That was back when KC was riding high atop the AFC West. My how times have changed! The Chiefs and Raiders will be meeting Sunday as two of the three teams tied atop the division – a critical game between a team that has lost six of its last seven and a squad that has won three of its last four. Lynch is trending in the right direction, just like his team. Marshawn is coming off his best game of the season last week, when he rumbled for 101 yards and a touchdown against the Giants. He is an especially good value at FanDuel and Fanball.

WR: Michael Crabtree at Kansas City

Fanball: $6,900

DraftKings: $6,700

FanDuel: $7,100

Crabtree is back from his suspension and won’t need to tape his chain on his neck this week. As we like to remind you in this space each week, the Chiefs have been awful against wide receivers this season. Crabtree scored against them on the final play back in Week 7 in that wild Thursday night game. That was the same game in which Amari Cooper blew up for 210 yards and two touchdowns. However, there is no guarantee Cooper will be healthy enough for the rematch, which would leave all the targets to Crabtree. Look at the prices and compare to other wide receivers: He is the very best wide receiver value on DraftKings this week and isn’t far behind at FanDuel and Fanball.

WR: Dez Bryant at New York Giants

Fanball: $7,900

DraftKings: $5,900

FanDuel: $7,200

As mentioned above in the section on Dak Prescott, I like Dez this week against the depleted Giants secondary. Fanball seems to agree with my forecast and has Bryant priced accordingly, but he is a bargain at both FanDuel and DraftKings. The Dak and Dez stack is in play in Week 14.

TE: Stephen Anderson vs. San Francisco

Fanball: $

DraftKings: $3,200

FanDuel: $4,500

Anderson will be the Texans’ starter the final month of the season with C.J. Fiedorowicz landing on IR. He was heavily involved last week, finishing with 79 yards and a touchdown against the Titans, and he has a plus-matchup against the 49ers this weekend. As an added bonus, Anderson is also a nice flyer to take in place of Gronk for your playoff squad in case all of the other tight ends listed above are already on teams.

Anthony Maggio, John Tuvey and Bo Mitchell co-host the 1500ESPN Fantasy Football Party podcast. Bookmark the podcast page for upcoming episodes and subscribe to the podcast now! 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 Vice President of Content for Sportradar. And Tuvey is Senior NFL Analyst and Director of Content for Fanball, a SportsHub Technologies company. All three men are kind of big deals, enjoy leather-bound books and have homes that smell of rich mahogany.

Follow Maggio @MPLSMaggio
Follow Bo @Bo_Mitchell
Follow John @jtuvey

Follow The Fantasy Football Party @TheFFParty





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Previous Story Fantasy Football: Feeling Lucky in Week 13?