The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

January 2, 2014

Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet | Playoffs Week 1 players to target and avoid

By Eric Pehowic
The Danville News

— Fantasy football doesn’t have to be over until the final whistle of the Super Bowl.

Many fantasy owners like to play in playoff leagues. Many more are embracing the world of daily fantasy sports.

Some experts believe smaller player pools increase volatility, meaning it’ll take more skill AND luck to defeat foes in something like this week’s divisional round, when only eight teams will take the field.

If that’s the case, then I say embrace the volatility.

You want a few sure things, but when faced with a large amount of volatility, aim for players who could provide extreme value.

For those of you in playoff leagues, you’ll also need to consider how long you think a team will last.

So, let’s break a few things down:

 

Super Bowl odds

Here are the odds that the playoff teams make the Super Bowl according to ESPN sports betting guru R.J. Bell. Teams with asterisks are playing this weekend:

Seahawks, 2/1

Broncos, 5/2

Patriots, 7/1

*49ers, 7/1

Panthers 10/1

*Bengals, 16/1

*Packers, 16/1

*Saints, 25/1

*Colts, 25/1

*Eagles, 25/1

*Chiefs, 30/1

*Chargers, 40/1

 

Using this information, we can see that one team playing this weekend, San Francisco, is expected to make it to the NFC Championship. That means, Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis could potentially play more games than any other team.

They also have a decent matchup against the Packers this week. Green Bay has allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and the third-most to opposing running backs.

After their bye weeks, the Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots and Panthers will be back on the field next week. The Seahawks and Broncos are the favorites to advance to the Super Bowl. So increase value for players from those teams.

That Seahawks 2/1 number is pretty strong. Put extra value in Steven Hauschka and their D/ST.

 

Playoff Week 1 (Week 18) starters

Let’s take a look at this week’s matchups and some smart plays for daily fantasy sports.

Quarterbacks

Drew Brees – Like one of my friends and former co-workers said the other day, Brees is the most likely QB to throw four TDs this week. That said, he’s also the most expensive QB. Difficult to get value out of the most expensive player on the board.

Colin Kaepernick – Like we said above, the Packers are a decent matchup for opposing QBs. One negative: The Packers don’t allow running quarterbacks to hurt them too much. Kaep only rushed for 22 yards against in Week 1.

Nick Foles, Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers – According to fantasy points allowed these three QBs have the worst matchups this week..

 

Running backs

Frank Gore – Gore is the only running back with an exceptional matchup this week, and he is a good value at the daily sites.

LeSean McCoy – The best running back in the NFL this season has a negative matchup, but you need to pay for at least one stud running back in daily fantasy. I’ve rostered McCoy in all most all of my DFS leagues.

Donald Brown – Brown is a great value and has a plus matchup (opposed to the plus-plus for Gore) against Kansas City.

 

Wide receivers

Marques Colston – A few blurbs ago, I said Brees is most likely to throw 4 TDs. If he does, I have to figure Colston gets one of them. Even if he only throws 2, I’d still give Colston good odds.

A.J. Green – You’re supposed to pay for two stud receivers in daily fantasy sports. When a player like A.J. Green has a matchup like this he is almost a must-start.

DeSean Jackson and Jordy Nelson – If you’re embracing volatility, you’re probably going to look at DeSean Jackson and Jordy Nelson. They have the worst matchup among No. 1 wide receivers this week.

 

Tight ends

Vernon Davis – Davis always has explosive potential. He’s got the best matchup this week. He’s expensive, but compared to Jimmy Graham, Davis is a bargain. …

Jimmy Graham -- … That said, Graham is almost matchup proof. Despite having one of the worst matchups of the week, Graham is still probably going to get 50 yards and a TD.

Coby Fleener, Anthony Fasano and Jermaine Gresham – Along with Graham, these three TEs have exceptionally bad matchups based on fantasy points allowed.

 

Kickers

Mason Crosby, Shayne Graham or Alex Henery – These rankings have little to do with fantasy points allowed. This one’s all me. Let’s not get too tricky here. Play kickers from great offenses, especially if they are facing a tough defense. I think the 49ers could slow down the Packers, meaning Crosby gets some looks. I could see that Eagles-Saints game going nuclear.

Phil Dawson, Nick Novak, Shayne Graham – These are the top three kickers based on fantasy points allowed.

 

Team defenses

49ers, Saints, Eagles – Those three squads have the best matchups based on fantasy points allowed. They are listed in order of FPA average, and in the same order I’d start them. The Eagles are a great value at most DFS sites.

Chiefs – The Colts have been the stingiest offense against opposing defenses in the last five weeks.

 

Good luck this week, whether you play it safe or embrace the volatility.