Divisional Round DraftKings plays
Each week I’ll comb through the options at each position to bring you my picks for the players with the best combination of safety and upside over a wide price range. These are guys you’ll use in cash games for the most part, but there’s nothing wrong with slotting a couple into your tournament lineups as well for stability.
Carson Palmer $6500: I’m a fan of home teams that are healthy coming off the bye. Palmer claims to have straightened out his dislocated finger issues that may have limited him in the final weeks of the season and should come out strong against a Green Bay defense that graded as slightly above average against the pass. Those numbers reflect some poor opposition including Detroit and Chicago twice, Dallas and San Francisco. When Palmer hosted Green Bay in Week 16, he threw two touchdowns and one interception. The risk with Palmer is that the defense does half or more of the work of winning but I think the Cardinals will come out hungry on offense and Palmer should be one of the safest DFS quarterback options this weekend.
Tom Brady $7400: Brady might be lower owned this weekend given the perception that the Patriots have struggled magnificently down the stretch while the Chiefs are getting better and better, especially on defense. Those things might be true, but there is no team with more playoff experience and Brady has the healthiest receiving corps he’s had since mid-season. Against the Chiefs, I expect him to rely more on the pass game than the run game and he is a top candidate to surpass 300 passing yards in doing so. My enthusiasm is diminished a little bit if Rob Gronkowski doesn’t play.
David Johnson $6000: There’s not much to feel good about at running back this week, but Johnson is up there. He gets the best running back matchup available (still not great—Green Bay allowed the 18th-most fantasy points to the position this season) and has been an integral part of the Cardinals offense, rushing for almost five yards per carry and catching 3-4 passes a week. He’s scored 13 total touchdowns this season, which should increase the trust this team has in the young back. He’ll be popular but I don’t see how you fade him.
James White $5200: Obviously Rob Gronkowski (see below) is a focal point of the New England offense if he plays, but it will behoove the Pats to establish something out of the backfield. In White’s case, we’ve seen goal line work at times, but his predominant role is as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. He’s broken some big plays and his versatility could play well against the stout Chiefs run defense.
Emmanuel Sanders $5800: Regardless of whether Peyton Manning or Brock Osweiler man the quarterback position I think Denver cruises to victory over a weakened Steelers team in Denver. Sanders has performed well with both quarterbacks, and while I have nothing against Demaryius Thomas, Sanders is considerably cheaper with similar upside. Also in Sanders’ favor is the projected matchup with Antwon Blake, Mike Clay’s most advantageous pairing for the Divisional Round (per the WR-CB chart).
Larry Fitzgerald $6500: Fitzgerald cooled off in the second half of the season relative to the blazing hot start he had, but still finished the season strong with 10 catches and two touchdowns in the final two games. His experience and reliability will be a critical part of the Cardinals game plan I’m sure. While John Brown and Michael Floyd both make interesting value plays, Fitzgerald is the guy I trust the most. I don’t find salary to be a huge issue in assembling a lineup this week, so Fitz is the one I’m most commonly pairing with Palmer.
Greg Olsen $6900: Olsen ought to be the most popular play of the week at tight end. He’s the primary receiving option for Cam Newton, the regular season’s top quarterback. This game has defensive showdown written all over it, but Seattle has shown some weakness to opposing tight ends, though that was mainly in the first half of the season. The volume he’ll see is the reason Olsen is a safe option at tight end; with 115 targets this year, he led his team with 1104 yards.
Rob Gronkowski $7500: Gronk is a risky play this weekend. He had treatment on his right knee on Thursday and the game is Saturday. His price is high and Brady has other options this week in Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and James White. That said, if he plays, I have a hard time coming up with a higher upside, lower-owned player this weekend. I know the Chiefs have allowed the fewest fantasy points to the position over the course of the regular season, but matchups don’t concern me as much with Gronkowski. If he can be on the field I expect him to be targeted when/where it counts.
Arizona Cardinals $3800: It was nice to see the Green Bay Packers resemble the championship-caliber team they’ve been for the past few years but let’s give a sizeable portion of the credit to Washington. I probably don’t need to remind you what the Cardinals D did the last time Green Bay visited – it was only three weeks ago – but I will anyway. Nine sacks and four turnovers (33 DraftKings points). While I don’t expect that exceptional performance again, Aaron Rodgers does get sacked a ton, is down another receiver (Davante Adams) and this is the most favorable giveaway-takeaway matchup on the board. I think the Cardinals win big and I love a good defense at home, especially at a slight discount to some of the other options.
Denver Broncos $3900: The Broncos defense hasn’t been the fantasy powerhouse that it was at the beginning of the season, but rested, at home, and facing the Steelers with a banged up Roethlisberger, no Antonio Brown, and no DeAngelo Williams seems like a pretty good opportunity to change that. I also think the Denver offense comes through big in this game, further limiting opportunities for the Steelers to score and perhaps even creating some opportunities for mistakes as Pittsburgh plays in catch-up mode. If the Steelers all get miraculously healthy, I like Denver a little less, but still think they’re a strong option.