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NFL Playoffs DFS Picks - Conference Championships Daily Divide

Daily Divide: Championship Weekend DFS

Two game slates are tough! To win a tourney you have to almost be perfect with every randomly fantastic play in your lineup. Still not too hard to profit, though, as you only need to make better decisions than your opponents. For cash games, keep it to smaller contests: head to heads and small field double ups. You may get blown out here or there, but on average higher floor lineups will still be rewarded over ones with more variance and risk. Let’s enjoy this last DFS slate for this football season in style!

Nathan: Picking players becomes a this or that type of proposition. With the smaller slate, Matt and I will each pick one of the games and breakdown the best DFS options from that game.

May our arguments debates help you out one last time this season.


NFC Championship Matchups (Nathan)

NFC QB: Cam Newton vs ARI
The three quarterbacks not named Peyton Manning are all similarly priced and against similarly tough defenses. Cam and the Panthers are 3 point home favorites with the highest team total of the week at 25.5. Cam Newton accounted for 45 touchdowns this season, with only 9 touchdowns not involving Cam Newton. Newton is the safest quarterback on the slate in regards to the worry of vulturing touchdowns, and against a Cardinals defense that came apart a bit at the end of their win against Green Bay, I think Newton has the highest upside of the slate.

Stacking: Greg Olsen is definitely in play this week. The tight end dilemma on this slate is Gronk versus Olsen, and the optimal play may be which quarterback you are rolling with. Ted Ginn is also an option, but more so for tourneys. I'm avoiding him in cash games against Peterson and the Cardinals secondary.

Matt: The Cardinals are tough, but at least Cam gets to face them at home. Vegas agrees with you too, giving the Panthers the highest team total on the weekend by several points. I don’t think people should overlook Carson Palmer, especially if they make multiple lineups. The Panthers gave up a 366-3 line to Russell Wilson last week, their third consecutive 300 yard passing game surrendered. (Matt Ryan put up 296 yards three weeks ago, but still.)


RB: David Johnson at CAR
I’m a fan of both running backs on the NFC side of things, but fitting in both of the slates top priced backs may be tough from a lineup construction perspective. So, I am rolling with David Johnson in all lineups with a pick your poison of the cheap Denver/New England backs(mostly CJ Anderson) Like last week, David Johnson will be close to 100% owned and for good reason with the highest floor and ceiling on the slate. Carolina did allow the 4th fewest rushing yards in the NFL this season, but that doesn't matter as much for a back like Johnson who scored 81.7 of his 211 PPR points in the passing game this season.

Matt: I see Jonathan Stewart as more of volume play in a good offense. David Johnson has both the higher floor and ceiling, so I agree.


WR: Cardinals’ Wide Receivers
All three receivers are in play on this side, the key to making money in this slate may be correctly guessing which were the right play. So here are my ranks of them and thoughts.

  •  John Brown- On this slate, you are going to need to find production from one or even two mid tier receivers. Brown is the first of those for me, as he has eight or more targets in four of his last six games, including a 5-82 line off of nine targets against the Packers.
  • Michael Floyd- Sure, one touchdown was a fluke that fell right into his lap, but Floyd did score two touchdowns in the Cardinals playoff win last week. He had a quiet week other than that, though has been playing very well prior. From weeks 13-16, Floyd was targeted at least eight times per game, averaging 16.9 PPR points per game during that span. When stacking two Cardinals wide receivers, I'm going with both Floyd and Brown and they give you some room to work with at the other positions
  • Larry Fitzgerald- Coming off of a 8-176-1 touchdown performance, Larry Fitzgerald will likely be the highest owned of the three and he is by far the most expensive. Personally I’d rather spend up at wide receiver in the AFC game, so I am fading Fitzgerald for the most part.

Note: I'm not actually going to play Devin Funchess, but I really wish I could. So, when he goes Jeff Janis’ on the Cardinals, refer back to this article where I'll look like a genius. A poor genius. But still a genius.

Stacking: If you are going two of the Cardinals three wide receivers, stacking them with Palmer is likely a solid idea. (Though I'd prefer to just roll with one and go with Cam instead.)

Matt: Not that I consider him a must play, but I wouldn’t “fade” Fitzgerald. (Fading means intentionally avoiding, as opposed to just not playing.) My ranking of these depends on the site, pricing, and your specific lineup construction. Outright, I’d rank them Fitz, Floyd, Brown, but it’s reasonably close between them, especially between Floyd and Brown. On Fanduel, Brown is $1000 than Floyd, and dollar for dollar I like Nathan’s ranking system there.


TE: Greg Olsen VS ARI
The Cardinals don't really have a tight end they use in the passing game, so this was a pretty easy decision. The real question for DFS’ers this weekend is ‘Going Gronk’ or ‘Ogling Olsen’. Like I talked about above, I think the best strategy for the slate is to stack your quarterback with your tight end if you are playing Cam/Brady. Once again, you don't get much more consistent at the tight end position than Olsen, outside of a meaningless week 17 game, Olsen has put up at least eight PPR points in 12 consecutive games with above 16 PPR points in half of those games.

Stacking: Cam, blam, thank you ma'am. Stack it up.

Matt: Better analysis than rhyming, but otherwise pretty solid Nathaniel.


AFC Championship Matchups (Matt)

QB: Tom Brady at DEN
We’ve enjoyed Peyton Manning’s illustratious hall of fame career, but we may be looking at his last meaningful NFL snaps. Admittedly, I’m hoping we are. I want to remember him at his best, and not the shell of his former self we’ve seen this year. So choosing Tom Brady in this one is an easy choice here, but the real decision is whether you play Brady in this game or a QB from the other game. On this side, the Patriots do have the second highest team total from Vegas at 23.75. With possession receiver Julian Edelman back, Brady put up a solid 302-2 line last week against another top five pass defense, albeit it at home instead of on the road. It his best skill player though, one of the league’s best playmaker, Gronk, who may have the best matchup at any position in this one. The Broncos surrendered the fewest raw fantasy points to both QBs and WRs throughout the season, but the 22nd most fantasy points to tight ends, good news for both Gronk and Brady, really. Heck, even Alex Smith put up a 246-1 line against Denver last week, so the Brady’s 2015 floor figures to remain intact, and there’s always the chance for more.

Stacking: Gronk and Edelman make the two obvious and probably only plays here.

Nathan: On the road against a top defense usually gets the #NahWave from me, but Tom Brady is Tom Brady and definitely the best quarterback option in this game.


RB: C.J. Anderson vs NE

The Patriots backs are ideally unusable in cash games. Steve Jackson is being used as a runner, where he hasn’t excelled in several years. James White’s usage can ebb and flow just enough to make us nervous about playing him. So we’re left with the Denver side of this affair. Ronnie Hillman will get some work in, and one big play or touchdown may leave him the higher scorer of the two for the weekend. I would rather play Anderson, however, who has just been more productive over the last couple months than Hillman. I’ll admit I don’t really love this one. Sharing a backfield, against a team known which may focus on stopping the run...but playing anyone else from this game takes on the feel of a real “punt.” He is priced pretty fairly on Fanduel, and makes a terrific play on Draftkings.

Punting note: If you choose to completely punt the RB slot, you may consider Mike Tolbert. It’s a hail mary of plays, but at least would save you plenty of money on some sites.

Nathan: The only worry here is he doesn't have the most upside in the world in this game, but for his price, that isn't too big of an issue.


WR: Julian Edelman at DEN
Julian Edelman looked great back from his injury last weekend, seeing 16 targets, putting together a solid 10-100 line on the day. The matchup versus Denver is far from ideal, but they did allow an average of over sixty yards per game to opposing WR1s this season, via FootballOutsiders. Those statistics can be a bit dicey to read into, but may speak in part to a floor still present for Edelman in this one. Edelman is the top receiver play this weekend. With the questionable quarterback play we saw last week for Denver, picking Edelman over Demaryius Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders was a pretty easy decision, though either are in play. I do want to encourage people to check out Sanders’ pricing on sites, as it seems to vary greatly. I can take or leave him, where he is priced similarly to Thomas, but as the pricing discrepancy increases, I like him more and more. (He is $700 cheaper on Draftkings, as one example.)

Stacking: Tom Brady makes a terrific play, as stated above.

Nathan: All Edelman does is catch the ball. He is a great play this weekend.


TE: Gronk at DEN
As Nathaniel stated above, the only tight end choice this weekend is Gronk or Olsen. The Cardinals TE situation just isn’t fantasy friendly. You could punt at TE with Owen Daniels, but I’m not sure I wouldn’t rather punt my RB2 spot instead. At least there you’re taking a hit where others might also be taking a hit. If you play Daniels, however, you’re likely starting at a deficit to those who play either Gronk or Olsen. The 2015 seasonal fantasy points allowed numbers, as well as FootballOutsider’s DVOA metrics both paint the picture that tight end is Denver’s weakest point of defense, and Gronk is the Patriots best point of attack. I’m not saying it’s an automatic play, but on paper his high floor figures to be intact, and the Gronk spike blowup is always in play.

Stacking: Asked and answered, re: Brady.

Nathan: To quote my friend Kenny Darter, “Get Gronk. Log off.” #Analysis


Thank you to all you loyal Daily Divide readers for following along this season. Good luck this weekend!


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