Last week, we wrote that there were no favorable matchups and easy plays in the NFL postseason. We sure wish we were wrong about that.
Solid defenses, cold weather and conservative play-calling made for modest fantasy football scores in FanDuel contests for NFL Wild Card Weekend. Here’s worse news: The defenses only get better and the matchups more difficult as we progress.
We break down the marginal studs and the underwhelming duds every Monday of the season and continue here with FanDuel’s NFL Wild Card Weekend Retrospectacle. There remains myriad lessons to be learned even if there were few fantasy points to be had.
QB Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins—He capitalized on his 4,166-29 breakthrough with the top performance among fantasy quarterbacks in NFL Wild Card Weekend, throwing for 329 yards with a touchdown, and rushing for another. He looks like the long-term fit in a Jay Gruden offense that should remain quarterback-friendly. He is going to be a fantasy fringe starter and a frequent value play on FanDuel action next fall.
Kansas City Chiefs Defense—How little love do the Chiefs get in their 11-game winning streak? Only the Green Bay Packers ($4,200) are cheaper among Divisional Playoff defenses on FanDuel. The Chiefs ($4,600) might not have the best matchup at the New England Patriots, but there really are not a lot of good ones, either. No one is hotter than the Chiefs defense in fantasy, producing three sacks, five turnovers and a kickoff-return touchdown Saturday.
QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers—He was brutally bad at the Arizona Cardinals in Week 16, but he looked rejuvenated and prepared for a Wild Card Weekend shootout this time. It is rare you can catch a talent like Rodgers as the fifth-highest priced quarterback on the board ($8,300), which might make Rodgers a bit less of a contrarian play than you might think.
TE Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins—If this 25-year-old can stay healthy in Gruden’s offense, he could be entering the rare Rob Gronkowski ($8,300)area among tight ends. A 16-game season from Reed could net 100-1,000-12 numbers, top-tier for a receiver, even though he generally can be had on FanDuel at a second-tier tight end price.
RB Spencer Ware, Kansas City Chiefs—The 24-year-old LSU product has usurped the Chiefs’ feature back role from RB Charcandrick West ($6,300)and will cost you $200 less at $6,100 for the Divisional Playoffs on FanDuel. We don’t love the matchup at the Patriots, but the fact that he scored among the leading backs shows just how few solid running back plays there are at this point.
RB James Starks, Green Bay Packers—He was moving around much better than RB Eddie Lacy ($6,200), which makes him a much better play at $5,800 in the Packers’ running back timeshare. The matchup at the Cardinals is not favorable, but his price is. Starks is the uptempo back for the Packers and you have to figure the Cardinals are going to force them into those situations early and often, leaving far more snaps for Starks than Lacy.
WR Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers—It is remarkable how high he set the bar when a 7-119 performance goes down as below average by his standards. You would think the matchup at the Denver Broncos next weekend would be prohibitive at $9,100, but Brown racked up a legendary 16-189-2 against the NFL’s No. 1 defense in Week 15. The only questions will be whether he makes it through concussion protocol.
WR A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals—The 27-year-old capped one of his best seasons and left us wondering where his numbers might have finished if QB Andy Dalton (thumb) had stayed healthy throughout the year. Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson’s power-running approach didn’t hinder Green’s elite potential much, but it will be interesting to watch this winter if Jackson gets a head coaching gig someplace else.
TE Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs—It has been awhile, nearly all season, since Kelce put up a performance like his 8-128 this weekend. He will be a popular second choice to Gronk at $6,600, especially since the Chiefs might have to use Kelce in a game of playing catch-up at the Patriots.
K Chris Boswell, Pittsburgh Steelers—He has quietly been a steady option at a second- or third-tier price among kickers ($4,700). We cannot expect a bonanza of points at Denver, but a banged-up Big Ben might make for a bonanza of field goals.
K Cairo Santos, Kansas City Chiefs—There have been plenty of big weeks for Santos, which should make him a top-five fantasy kicker for 2016. His $4,800 makes him priced-to-play for the Divisional Playoffs.
RB Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings—We might have had another week to consider the ageless wonder this postseason, especially considering the disappointing production from FanDuel’s other running backs this year, but a fumble and a missed field goal kept A.D. from the Divisional Playoffs. Just 45 yards on 23 carries and that costly fumble. We are going to miss a young and spry Peterson, even if he was a dud here.
WR DeSean Jackson, Washington Redskins—The Packers did a number on Jackson with bracket coverage, limiting him to two catches for 17 yards. It makes us wonder if that attention was even necessary for the injury-plagued 29-year-old former burner.
QB Brian Hoyer, Houston Texans—Oh goodness, the Texans are cursed at quarterback. Please, in the name of DeAndre Hopkins, do not slot Hoyer as your 2016 starting quarterback in Houston. A Hoyer-ible performance: 136 yards and four interceptions. Hopkins and fantasy deserves better. RG3 anyone?
WR Jeremy Maclin, Kansas City Chiefs—Just three catches for 29 yards, a banged-up knee and a high-ankle sprain. Injuries to insults. It is too bad he cannot be counted on against the Pats next weekend, but this is at least good news for Kelce’s target count.
TE Richard Rodgers, Green Bay Packers—We thought he had overcome that post-Hail Mary deal with the devil after a productive Week 17. But just two catches for 11 yards lands him back among the bums. A Divisional Playoff matchup at Arizona, a team that limited him to just one catch for two yards, doesn’t look anymore promising either.