DFS bargains for Championship Weekend
After sorting through this week’s price sheets, I’ve found a few valuable players for our Championship Weekend rosters. As I have done every week, I used my prediction models—which I’ve written about in the past—to find the players with the most value at each position on all three major DFS sites. I also accounted for injuries and matchups when I made my picks.
Most of the well-known fantasy studs and superstars have been excluded. Even though I think many of them have a lot of value this week, I don’t think it’s necessary to explain why.
Now, lets jump into some of my favorite value picks for this weekend’s games. I’ve included many of the players’ projected floor and ceiling scores (PPR). They give us clear indication of who has good GPP potential (high ceiling), and who should be used primarily in cash games (high floor). The prices listed below each player are the ones I consider to be good values.
C.J. Anderson vs New England
David Johnson and Jonathan Stewart have the highest ceilings among this week’s running backs. And, their costs reflect it. On all three sites, they’re by far the two most expensive. Anderson has the third-highest ceiling, and he’s much more reasonably priced. That’s why he’s this week’s most-valuable running back.
I picked him as my most-valuable running back for the Divisional round. That panned out well. He finished the day with two receptions for 11 yards, and 15 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown. That was good enough for him to finish second in fantasy points. Not too bad considering the top-scoring running back, Jonathan Stewart, cost a whopping $2,100 more on DraftKings.
Anderson and Ronnie Hillman have recently shared the Broncos’ backfield duties. In Week 17, they both had 15 carries. Last weekend, Anderson had 15 carries, as Hillman had 16. Anderson was more productive though. Over that two-game span, he averaged 5.6 YPC, as Hillman averaged 5.0 YPC.
In fact, for the entire season, Anderson has been the better back. He out produced Hillman in the passing game. But, more importantly, he has significantly bested Hillman on the ground. Anderson has averaged 4.7 YPC for the season, as Hillman has averaged 4.0. Coach Gary Kubiak’s zone-blocking scheme rewards running backs that best take advantage of running lanes. That’s Anderson in this case.
The Patriots have a stiff pass defense, as their rated second-best (39.6) in the league. Denver will need to produce an effective running attack in order to win. For one, that’s the Kubiak offensive’s forte. Secondly, it will help control the clock, and keep Tom Brady off the field for longer amounts of time.
That’s why I believe the Broncos will lean on Anderson more in this game. His floor is a risky four points, but his ceiling is an encouraging 23. Pair him with Johnson or Stewart for a deadly duo.
Jerricho Cotchery vs Arizona
Ted Ginn has been the Panthers’ most-productive wide receiver this season. Among wide receivers who played at least 50 percent of snaps, Ginn finished the regular season in the top 10 for touchdown receptions (10), average depth per aimed throw (17.0), rushing yards (60), and fantasy points per opportunity (0.50). He currently leads the Panthers in receptions (44), receiving yards (739), and receiving touchdowns. His big-play-making abilities helped the Panthers lead the league in scoring (29.4 points per game) this season.
However, he’s not the Panthers wide receiver with the highest DFS value this weekend. In spite of all those aforementioned stats, I expect Ginn’s production to be poor in this game, and that’s solely due to his matchup. Shutdown corner Patrick Peterson is expected to shadow him. Advantage: Peterson.
Believe it or not, Cotchery’s DFS value is much higher than Ginn’s. Over the Panthers’ last three games, Cotchery led the wide receivers in receptions (nine) and tied for the most touchdowns (one). Jerraud Powers is projected to cover him often in the slot. Powers has struggled a lot in coverage this season (grade of 54.8). Cotchery has a huge advantage over Powers.
Considering the great matchup, and his fair usage, Cotchery appealing value at his low prices. His floor is three points, and his ceiling is 16. Rostering him will allow you to stock up on many high-priced superstars. I also expect his ownership percentage to be quite low, which makes his GPP value even more tempting. Add him to your lineup if you’re looking to go with a boom-or-bust strategy in GPP contests.
Owen Daniels vs New England
Rob Gronkowski and Greg Olsen are head and shoulders above the rest of this weekend’s tight end field. For the season, they had the top-two PFF receiving grades at tight end. They were also top two in receiving yards. They have the highest floors and ceilings this week, and it’s not even close.
However, they come with hefty price tags. On DraftKings, they both cost over $7,000. And, they’re both $27 on Yahoo. Their upside justifies the cost. Nevertheless, Daniels has the highest overall value.
His value is primarily derived from his bargain-basement prices. He costs half as much as the aforementioned two on Yahoo. On DraftKings, he’s a third of the cost.
His role also has sneaky value. He’s the clear-cut starting tight end in Peyton Manning’s offense. That role always has a lot of value. Additionally, Daniels was second on the team in red zone targets (11) this season. He also tied for the most red zone touchdowns (3) on the team. If he were to find the end zone this weekend—which is a fair probability—his rate of return would be very high. His floor is a risky two points, but his upside is an encouraging 19.
Lastly, I expect over 80 percent of the GPP fields to have Gronkowski or Olsen rostered. So, not only does Owens offer his owners nice overall value, he also offers roster uniquity—which is a positive in GPP contests.
Dave Pratt, DPT, is PFF Fantasy’s injury expert. Follow him on Twitter @PFF_DavePratt