Many football-watchers consider the Divisional playoff round to be the best weekend of the entire NFL season. Tough to argue, especially when you’re pitting the four best teams in the league against the four hottest teams, the ones who clicked at the right time and survived the Wild Card round. Know what makes the weekend even better? Winning your fantasy football league, and/or taking home a little extra coin with a successful DFS lineup.
With that in mind, here are a few intriguing value plays you can sprinkle into your DFS lineup to help make room for the high-priced big guns.
Case Keenum, QB, MIN vs. Saints
The narrative on this one is the Vikings will grind out a win on the ground at home, riding their elite defense into the conference championship. But don’t be fooled by Keenum’s “just enough” numbers as Minnesota wrapped up the season. Keenum tossed multiple touchdowns in each of his three regular-season matchups with the NFC South—and he wasn’t even under center when Sam Bradford took the Saints for 346 and three in the season opener. The Vikings may grind, but with weapons like Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph at his disposal Keenum will have every opportunity to put up helpful numbers. Still, only Draft Kings prices Keenum in the top half of Divisional round quarterbacks, meaning he’ll deliver those numbers at a discount of between $900 and $2900.
Leonard Fournette, RB, JAC @ Steelers
In the Steelers’ six games prior to Ryan Shazier’s injury no team rushed for more than 70 yards, backs averaged 3.3 yards per carry, and Pittsburgh surrendered only one RB rushing score. In the three games immediately after Shazier went down the Steelers served up 100-yard games to Alex Collins and Alfred Blue and allowed five running back rushing scores and 5.7 yards per carry. Fournette gouged the Steelers—with a healthy Shazier—for 28-181-2 earlier in the season; what do you think the Jaguars’ game plan will be in the rematch? There’s an easy 20-plus touches waiting for Fournette, against a defense that has struggled to stop the run in Shazier’s absence—more than enough to make Fournette’s price tag, fourth- or fifth-highest running back of the weekend depending on your DFS venue of choice, not just palatable but downright lineup-friendly.
Jerick McKinnon, RB, MIN vs. Saints
McKinnon and Latavius Murray have tag-teamed to replace dynamic rookie Dalvin Cook, who roasted the Saints for 137 yards from scrimmage in the season opener. And while Murray isn’t a bad value himself, with price tags ranging from $100 less to $500 more than McKinnon, the back affectionately known as “Jet” has a distinct leg up in any format awarding points for receptions. Since Cook went down in Week 4 McKinnon has seen five or more targets in six games, averaging 5.6 receptions and 51.1 yards while scoring twice in those half-dozen contests. Pass-catching backs hit the Saints in a soft spot; they’ve allowed six or more targets to running backs in four straight and six of the last seven games—including Christian McCaffrey’s 6-101-1 in the Wild Card round. The Saints have also surrendered a running back receiving touchdown in three of the last four games. Peg Murray as the goal-line guy and the Thielen/Diggs combo as the focal point of the passing game… but know that McKinnon has ample opportunity to return serious value.
Derrick Henry, RB, TEN @ Patriots
It’s worth mentioning that while Henry is the third-highest priced back on both DraftKings and Fantasy Draft, his $6700 price tag on FanDuel makes him just the ninth-most expensive runner for the weekend. With DeMarco Murray already ruled out, all of Tennessee’s backfield touches will funnel through Henry. Game script may dictate the Titans play catch-up, but at that price Henry is worth the risk—especially when you consider he has more receiving yards (101) in the past two weeks than in the previous 16 combined.
Danny Amendola, WR, NE vs. Titans
With only a one-catch cameo appearance in the past two-plus months it’s almost impossible to trust Chris Hogan with a lineup spot despite a price tag lower than between eight and 12 other wideouts. But you know Tom Brady is going to get his, and Rob Gronkowski can’t handle the entire receiving workload. With Adoree Jackson on Brandin Cooks, where will Tom turn? For a price somewhere between 17th (FanDuel) and 21st (DraftKings) among wideouts, roll the bones on Amendola. His production has been consistent with or without Hogan in the lineup; you know he’ll get you a handful of catches, and at those rock-bottom prices if he finds the end zone it’s all gravy.
Corey Davis, WR, TEN @ Patriots
If, as noted above, game script in the Titans-Patriots tilt forces Marcus Mariota to the air then grabbing Tennessee’s top target makes sense. In the Wild Card round that target was Davis, who splashed with 10 targets way back in Week 1 but was knocked off track by an injury and only lately has worked his way back to the top of the Titans’ receiver rotation. Davis posted a career-best 6-91 in the Week 16 loss to the Rams and paced Tennessee with seven targets (producing 4-35) in Kansas City last week. He’s still looking for his first pro touchdown, but with a price tag that lands him between the 18th and 21st receiver he’s a high-volume opportunity play as you build up your lineup elsewhere.
On FanDuel, however, teammate Eric Decker might actually be the better play. The veteran pass-catcher is $600 cheaper than Davis on that venue and considering he’s out-targeted the rookie 21-18 over the past three weeks and found the end zone last week against Kansas City he might be the more palatable play in that format.
Mohamed Sanu, WR, ATL @ Eagles
This feels like a good week to pay up at the receiver position—the value-priced suggestions above excepted, of course. But Sanu’s lineup-friendly $5800 price tag on FanDuel, 14th among wideouts, puts him squarely in play on that venue. Atlanta’s WR2 has five or more targets in seven straight games, including 19 over the Falcons’ last two must-win weeks; he also topped 70 yards in each of those two tilts. Sanu does most of his work out of the slot, which also bodes well as fellow slot receivers Doug Baldwin (5-84), Cooper Kupp (5-118-1) and Sterling Shepard (11-139-1) put up quality numbers in a similar spot. Sanu’s price tag gets a little less palatable at other venues, but if FanDuel is your site of choice he’s extremely tempting.
Zach Ertz, TE, PHI vs. Falcons
The price-setters are determined to make you pay up for Gronk; he’ll cost you $1300 to $2900 more than any other tight end. The bargain-basement alternative of paying half his price tag for an ancillary part of an offense like Austin Hooper, Jesse James or Marcedes Lewis, is far from appealing. Working the in between are Ertz, Delanie Walker and Kyle Rudolph, all within $1300 of each other on DraftKings and FanDuel; at an $1800 discount from Ertz and Walker, Rudy may be the better value on Fantasy Draft. But let’s stick with Ertz, who saw 23 targets from Nick Foles in his two full games after the Carson Wentz injury. Those targets marked Ertz’s busiest two-game stretch of the season and yielded 15-137-1. The Falcons haven’t allowed a 60-yard tight end since Charles Clay in Week 4, but they also haven’t seen much in the way of talent or volume; when those two factors combine, you get something like Jimmy Graham’s 7-59-1 on 11 targets. Given Ertz’s role as Foles’ favored target he’s a solid investment at a reasonable rate.