Top Draftstreet Football Values For NFL's Divisional Weekend
As one of the best sites when it comes to daily leagues, Draftstreet has been a weekly feature here on Pro Football Focus. Our primary goal, especially in the postseason, is to help you fantasy football owners out there win some straight cash homey when all the standard leagues have ended.
While we have hit and missed with our projections, it’s always a solid tool to have someone else (myself) do the research that most of you simply don’t have the time to do. And we are more than happy to help.
As has been the case each week this season, Pro Football Focus will provide you with the top Draftstreet values for NFL’s wild card weekend.
For the purposes of these articles, I will utilize Draftstreet cap numbers and base them off total cap numbers of $100,000 per team.
Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers ($13,277)
Even before I did the research for this article, Rivers stood out as an under-the-radar option this week in daily leagues. Draftstreet just so happens to value him as the least expensive of the eight quarterbacks starting in the divisional round. Thanks for playing into my narrative, guys. Rivers may not inspire a lot of confidence in fans who saw him play in the two seasons immediately prior to 2013, but he’s been one of the most consistently good quarterbacks this season. Despite attempting just 16 passes in San Diego’s wild card win over the Cincinnati Bengals, it’s pretty obvious that Rivers will have to at least double that number heading into Denver against the Broncos this upcoming weekend.
For their part, the Broncos ranked 26th in the NFL against fantasy quarterbacks during the regular season. A lot of that had to do with other teams having to air it out in order to combat an offense that put up a league record 37.9 points per game, but fantasy leagues don’t take that into account. You can expect somewhat of a higher-scoring affair in this one, meaning that Rivers will have to put the ball in the air in order for San Diego to come out with an upset victory. Simply put, Rivers is a better option than Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick and Drew Brees, all of whom are more expensive than him in Draftstreet leagues.
Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers ($8,037)
I flirted with going Danny Woodhead here, then I realized he was more expensive than the Chargers “starting running back.” Mathews has been a darn good fantasy performer throughout the last two months, going for an average of over 100 total yards and 0.5 touchdowns per outing in his last eight games. The former first-round pick also tallied 127 yards and a score on 29 rush attempts against the Broncos back in Week 14. Denver also ranked in the bottom 11 of the NFL against fantasy running backs during the regular year.
Draftstreet currently has Mathews as the eighth-most expensive running back this week, behind inconsistent performers such as LeGarrette Blount and Donald Brown. Doesn’t it make more sense to go with the higher-floor player that shows his ceiling is as a top-three running back? That’s what I thought.
Montee Ball, RB, Denver Broncos ($5,806)
Knowshon Moreno continues to see a vast majority of the snaps in Denver…and for good reason. The former first-round pick was an absolute stud in both the running game and in pass protection in front of franchise quarterback Peyton Manning. With that said, Ball saw some decent playing time over the last half of the regular season, averaging 25 snaps per game over the course of the final nine regular season outings. This comes on the heels of the 2013 second-round pick putting up an average of just 13 snaps per game in the first seven outings of the year. Needless to say, Ball has taken the No. 2 running back job from Ronnie Hillman and seems to be more of an important part of the offense at this point in the postseason.
San Diego ranked in the top 11 of the NFL against fantasy running backs during the regular year, but did yield five receptions for 49 yards to Ball back in Week 14. Once Denver goes to an obvious passing situation, it appears that Ball has been more than up to the task in pass protection. This means he should put up some decent PPR numbers in the divisional round. In addition, you have to consider the possibility that Denver blows the Chargers out here. If so, Ball will get numerous touches on the ground. At less than six percent of your cap, this Wisconsin product represents tremendous value.
Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco 49ers ($9,146)
Crabtree is going to be a must start every single time he lines up in a postseason game. It doesn’t matter who No. 15 goes up against, he has been downright dominating in the playoffs. Over the course of his last four postseason games, Crabtree has tallied 29 receptions for 410 yards and four touchdowns. Since returning from his torn Achilles back in Week 13, San Francisco’s No. 1 wide receiver has put up 27 catches on 43 targets for over 400 yards. Do you really need any more indicators that he will be able to go up against a stout Carolina Panthers defense and come out of it as a top-five receiver this weekend? Okay I figured, so here goes…
It is anticipated that Crabtree will be lining up against undrafted rookie free agent Melvin White, who we grade out with a negative -5.8 performance in coverage. This is an obvious advantage for Crabtree, who appears to be at 100 percent eight months removed from tearing up his Achilles.
While San Francisco only put up nine points and a ridiculously low 46 passing yards against Carolina back in Week 10, it’s important to note that it was without both Crabtree and Vernon Davis in that game. Expect a much different performance in the passing game this upcoming week, and this receiver should be a beneficiary of that.
Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers ($8,435)
Allen has seen his production dip a bit over the past few weeks. After putting up 17 receptions for 230 yards in a two-game stretch back late November, Allen has tallied just 15 receptions in his last five games. The important thing to look at, however, is that Allen has recorded five touchdowns in those five games. He has quickly become one of Rivers’ favorite targets in the red zone, which should come up huge against the Broncos this weekend.
The rookie should be lining up against a combination of Chris Harris and Champ Bailey in this one. While Harris grades out as one of the better cover corners in the NFL this year, it’s important to note that Allen recorded two touchdowns on as many receptions against Denver back in Week 14. As the sixth-most expensive fantasy receiver this week and going up against a defense that yielded the 11th-most fantasy points to receivers during the regular year, Allen is a must play in the divisional round. It’s that simple.
Zach Miller, TE, Seattle Seahawks ($3,614)
Either of Seattle’s tight ends should be considered TE1 options this upcoming weekend. New Orleans will be without starting free safety Kenny Vaccaro, who is on injured reserve after injuring his ankle back in Week 15. This means that a combination of Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins will have to go up against Miller and Luke Willson. This really can’t end well for the road-tripping Saints. For his part, Miller has consistently played about 50 snaps per game this season and is tied with two other Seahawks pass catchers for the team lead with five touchdown receptions. Even one catch in the red zone, and his price tag will be more than worth it. New Orleans may have ranked in the top 11 of the NFL against fantasy tight ends during the regular year, but the vast majority of that was with Vaccaro in the lineup.