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We are now in the 15th round of a 17-round fight. We’ve been beaten and battered multiple times over the last few weeks leaving us with barely a bounce in our step on Sunday night. By Wednesday, the trauma starts to wear off. When Thursday night football rolls around, the mind is in motion trying to find the magical path to the big score. Our bankroll is now loaded with just BBs after sporting a pocket full of cash in early September. As the theory goes, you can’t win if you don’t play (Damn, can’t lose if I don’t play either). So here’s the next ride to the top of the mountain via the DraftKings Perfect Lineup.
The weather has become a significant factor over the last couple of weeks. This week there's six to seven games with a chance to have bad weather. The worst three games look to be Green Bay/Chicago, Cleveland/Buffalo, and Tennessee/Kansas City. It should warm up New York and Baltimore.
The only two games with a chance to go back and forth with upside in scoring are the Tampa/Dallas and the Oakland/San Diego games. The Falcons will score against the 49ers, but no Julio Jones and poor offensive play by the 49ers does point to minimal impact players.
The worst ten defenses in the league giving up Fantasy points are Atlanta, San Fran, Cleveland, Carolina, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Tennessee, Washington, Oakland, and Dallas. Over the last three weeks, the Eagles, the Dolphins, the Cardinals, and the Cowboys defenses have played poorly with Tennessee and Dallas ranking poorly in both the season long and in the three-week splits (Carolina and Washington as well, but they play on Monday night).
This week I’m going to stick no neck on Friday (might change by Sunday with a poor weather report) with my QB and one WR. I have a feeling Sammy Watkins ($5,900) has an impact game against the Browns, so I'll take his QB (Tyrod Taylor - $5,700) for a ride as well. Also, I'm going to triple up with the Bills' defense ($3,700).
Taylor has two TDs or fewer in his last ten games while failing to pass for over 200 yards in eight games. His best game of the season came in Week 9 (SEA - 322 combined yards with two TDs). This week Tyrod has a plus matchup against the Browns who rank 31st in the league in Fantasy points allowed to QBs. Five teams have over 25.0 Fantasy points against Cleveland. QBs have 30 TDs vs. the Browns with four teams passing for over 300 yards. Cleveland can be beaten on the ground as well (4.6 yards per rush with 16 TDs to RBs), which falls into the strength of the Bills. Sammy Watkins is rounding into form, so this could be the game where both players pay off. The key here is a snow and wind free day.
Watkins was on the field 49 of 52 plays last week leading to his best game of the season (4/54/1). Over his five games, Sammy has 29 targets. The weather was clearly an issue in Week 14. The Browns are 19th in the league against WRs (152/2140/17 on 251 targets). Five WRs have over 100 yards receiving against Cleveland (A.J. Green - 8/169/1, Kendall Wright - 8/133/1, Chris Hogan - 4/114, Jarvis Landry - 7/120/1, and Jordan Matthews - 7/114/1). If the weather cooperates, Watkins could be in line for an impact game. Excellent upside with a favorable price point.
This theory isn’t great as I don’t expect the Browns to push the issue on the scoreboard. I need a long bomb to Watkins with solid catches and yards plus Taylor needs to be active in the run game with a rushing TD.
I’m going to run back Mike Evans ($8,300) after a couple of down games.
Evans deserted Fantasy owners on the doorstep of winning a championship. Over the last two games, Mike had his lowest two games (3/38 and 4/42) of the season in production. He has four games with over 100 yards receiving (three at home) with 10 TDs (two in the last five games). Dallas is 28th in the league defending WRs (201/2294/14 on 308 targets). The best three WRs against the Cowboys in 2016 are Antonio Brown (14/154/1), DeSean Jackson (4/118/1), and Brandon LaFell (8/68/2). High volume WR (11.2 targets per game) with an edge in TDs who's due to for a bounce back game. If Tampa is going to win, Evans will need to come up big.
The top of the RB pool is extremely expensive, so I'll pass on David Johnson ($10,100) and Le’Veon Bell ($9,800) in an effort to add more depth to my roster.
The team with the best matchup for the RB position is Atlanta. I’m concerned with the playing time with Devonta Freeman ($6,700) while not being convinced of the upside of Tevin Coleman ($5,000) after his nice game last week. One of these backs could beat me this week, so I'm going to place my bet on Freeman. If he delivers about 25.0 Fantasy points, I'll be happy with his production.
Freeman was the odd man out last week for the Falcons. He only had eight touches for 18 yards while being on the field for 22 plays compared to 21 by Tevin Coleman. Devonta averages 17.0 touches per game with nine TDs and 39 catches. The 49ers are last in the league defending RBs five teams scoring over 30.0 Fantasy points. RBs have 22 TDs against San Fran while gaining 4.9 yards per rush. Atlanta will score on the ground, but it will be tough to trust Freeman’s playing time and opportunity.
I’m going to cheat the TE position with Antonio Gates ($4,100). I have a feeling he scores two TDs this week in his quest to break the career record for TDs for the TE position.
Gates had a bounce back in targets (9) in Week 14 after delivering weak results in his two previous games (0/0 and 4/37). He finished with five catches for 61 yards. In Week 5, Antonio had four catches for 30 yards and a TD vs. the Raiders. Last week Gates was on the field for 37 of 67 plays run by the Chargers compared to 35 by Hunter Henry. Oakland is 21st in the league against the TE position (62/819/5 on 98 targets) with three bad games (ATL - 10/180/1, SD - 7/109/2, and HOU - 10/128). Antonio still needs three TDs to break the all-time record for TDs by a TE so he could get multi TDs in this game if he scores early. No sexiness left on his resume while being stud for a decade.
At Flex, I’m going to take the ugliest dude at the back of the room – Allen Robinson ($4,400). There won’t be many times when you can roster a player who gets over nine targets per game for this short salary plus Allen has scoring ability (six TDs) never mind success against Houston earlier in the year.
After four straight bad games (3/18/1, 2/24, 3/31, and 1/17), Robinson slipped to the bottom rung of the WR pool. During his downtick, Allen had 24 targets with a poor catch rate (37.5). His best game of the season came in Week 10 against Houston (9/107/1). Robinson has six TDs while averaging 9.2 targets per game. Houston is 5th in the league defending WRs (154/1843/11 on 263 targets) with five other WRs gaining over 100 yards receiving (Alshon Jeffery - 4/105, Adam Thielen - 7/127/1, Dontrelle Inman - 6/119/1, Jordy Nelson - 8/118/1, and T.Y. Hilton - 9/115/1). High volume WR with some scoring ability with a favorable price point.
With two players to go, I have $11,200 in salary. I’d love to find a way to get Antonio Brown ($8,400) into my lineup, but I don’t see a viable out at RB to match with him.
Brown has fewer than 100 yards receiving in four straight games leading to 24 catches for 301 yards with four TDs on 34 targets. Antonio has four games with over 100 yards receiving while scoring 11 TDs. On the year, Antonio averages 10.6 targets per game. In Week 2, Brown had four catches for 39 yards on 11 targets vs. the Bengals. Cinci is 3rd in the league defending WRs (146/1755/11 on 239 targets). Three WRs have over 100 yards receiving against the Bengals (Emmanuel Sanders - 9/117/2, Demaryius Thomas - 6/100/1, and Jamison Crowder - 9/107/1). All three of Cincy's CBs grade as just above league average. Bell has had so many touches (140) over the last month that defenses will need to focus on stopping him as the first option in the Steelers offense. Solid 20-point floor with more upside with multiple TDs.
The RB with potentially the best opportunity for his salary is Kenneth Farrow ($4,400), which would leave me $6,800 in salary for my last WR.
Farrow jumped into the lead role at RB for the Chargers in Week 14 when Melvin Gordon went down with an injury. Kenneth finished with 22 touches for 78 combined yards with six catches. After Gordon when down, Farrow was on the field for 55 of 56 plays run by San Diego. Melvin had a top five opportunity, so this is a situation to monitor. Ronnie Hillman was inactive last week, which won't be the case in Week 15. The Raiders are 24th in the league against the RB position with four teams scoring over 30.0 Fantasy points. I'd love to say Ken is the best value on the board at RB, but I just get the feeling Farrow falls short of expectations. Either way, he belongs in the mix at this price point.
I don’t like my options at WR at the $6,800 level. I like Jordy Nelson ($7,300) this week, which would force me to change out another position.
Jordy has been a Fantasy rock over his last seven games (48/596/7) with an elite catch rate in his last five games (71.1). Nelson has three games with over 100 yards receiving with 12 TDs. On the year, he averages 9.6 targets per game (10.8 over his last six games). In Week 7, Jordy had his worst game of the season against the Bears (1/9 on four targets). Chicago is 21st in the league defending WRs (180/2238/13 on 284 targets) with their worst game coming vs. the Packers (37/311/3 on 53 targets). Rodgers is banged up, but he does have a high level of success in his career against Green Bay. Excellent second tier option with a favorable date with CB Tracy Porter.
By dropping from the Bills’ defense to the Giants, I create $800 in salary for the WR position. This move gets me, Nelson. If I move off Gates to Ladarius Green ($3,700), I could roster Odell Beckham.
Green ended up being a trap in Week 14 (2/25 on six targets) after posting an elite game in Week 13 (6/110/1). Playing time continues to be an issue for Ladarius. Over the last two weeks, he's been on the field for 63 of 148 plays run by the Steelers compared to 95 by Jesse James. The Bengals do have risk defending TEs (29th - 81/932/7 on 119 targets) with three disaster games (NE - 12/210/1, WAS - 14/192/1, and PHI - 14/132/1). Pittsburgh even had success with the TE vs. Cinci in Week 2 (5/55/2). Low snaps, but he will get targets when he's on the field. More upside than meets the eye and Roethlisberger will use the TE this week.
Beckham has nine TDs in his last nine games. On the year, he averages 10.3 targets per game with only three games with over 100 yards receiving. Odell has over 90 yards receiving in four of his last five games. The Lions moved to 10th in the league vs. the WR position (177/2019/12 on 260 targets) with a high level of success over their last seven games (WAS - 15/170, HOU - 8/85, MIN - 25/217, JAC - 8/79/2, MIN - 15/80, NO - 13/153, and CHI - 11/145/1). This is the toughest matchup as far as WR since Week 1 (T.Y. Hilton - 6/79). Four WRs have over 100 yards receiving against Detroit (Jordy Nelson - 6/101/2, Eddie Royal - 7/111/1, Kenny Britt - 7/136/2, and Jamison Crowder - 7/108). CB Darius Slay is playing at a high level, but he can't handle Beckham with one-on-one coverage. Possible low percentage own leading to an edge if he goes off.
To help add to my thought process, here's a look at my write-up for Jesse James in Week 2:
James looked like Health Miller in Week 1 when he caught five of his seven targets for 31 yards. He worked the middle of the field after the WRs cleared the defenders. In 2015, Heath Miller had 20 catches for 171 yards on 23 targets. The Bengals didn't allow a catch to the TE in Week 1, which wasn't a surprise as the Jets don't have a viable TE while receiving the lowest amount of chances in the league. Jesse is worth a flier especially if tied to Ben Roethlisberger.
Over the last three games against the Bengals, the Steelers’ TEs have 26 catches for 230 yards and two TDs.
The question comes down to the explosiveness of Beckham paired with a TE with short snaps and a winning history by the Steelers’ TEs in this week’s matchup or my belief in Gates finding the end zone at least once and Nelson bouncing back with a strong game in his second game with the Bears. Here’s my Week 15 Perfect Lineup for DraftKings: