NFL Conference Championships: Ranking Each Position
It’s conference championship weekend, which means we only have four teams to select players from. Daily fantasy players will have similar lineups, but how do you get that edge?
Yes, we know the AFC title game is likely going to be higher scoring than the NFC, but considering number of snaps played and potential for touchdowns is greatly increased with the low number of players. Denver is a 5-point favorite over New England with an over/under of 56.5, while Seattle is a 3.5-point favorite over San Francisco with an over/under of 39.5.
Both the AFC and NFC Championships are in Denver and Seattle respectively. Therefore, we should have to factor weather right?
Wrong. The weather is supposed be relatively nice considering it’s near the end of January. Denver is expected to have a kickoff temperature of 61 degrees, sunny skies and winds of 9-14 MPH. Seattle will have a temperature of 46, mostly cloudy skies and 2-7 MPH winds.
With that, here are my rankings for the players at each position.
(All salaries are via DraftKings)
1. Tom Brady $7,900 – Don’t let the zero TD passes of last week discourage you. That won’t happen again. Brady has been playing in atrocious weather the past few weeks and having substantial leads has allowed him to hand the ball off more. He’ll be throwing it everywhere this weekend with a banged up Broncos secondary.
2. Colin Kaepernick $6,700 – Yes, Kaepernick will have a challenge against the best secondary in the NFL and in the toughest NFL environment. But with decent weather and Kaepernick putting up 19.34 FPTS vs. Carolina, 21.88 vs. Green Bay and 25.8 vs. Arizona in the last three weeks, I expect him to do better than Drew Brees last week. He’s also averaging over six carries a game since week 12.
3. Peyton Manning $9,400 – It’ll be hard to fork up the money for Manning unless you take some risks at other positions. But even if Manning has a solid outing, do you really expect him to do what he was doing at the beginning of the season? The Broncos are running more and the Patriots have the 28th-ranked rushing defense. I’m sure Manning will get at least two touchdowns and 250 yards, but do we think he’s going for 40 FPTS in the AFC Championship? Probably not, and it’s not worth risking other positions.
4. Russell Wilson $7,500 – In terms of FPTS, he really hasn’t played well as of late. In fact, the last time he went over 20 FPTS was on Monday Night Football against the Saints. Can he do that against the 49ers? Doubtful.
1. Knowshon Moreno $7,400 – A lot of the attention will be on Manning, but I really believe this will be a huge game for Moreno. The Pats are 28th against the run, but when Moreno got 37 carries for 224 yards and a touchdown against the Patriots on Sunday Night Football, Denver split more time with him and Montee Ball for the rest of the regular season. But against the Chargers, Moreno got 23 touches for 82 yards. Moreno is their best back and has solid PPR value. You bet he’s getting a boatload of carries on Sunday.
2. Frank Gore $5,200 – Not the best matchup, but he’s going to get between 15 and 25 carries and should be used on the goal line. For someone who is $5,200, gets near 100 yards each contest and scores a touchdown in about half the games, that’s not too shabby. Gore also had 17 carries for 110 yards against Seattle last time.
3. Marshawn Lynch $7,900 – Believe it or not, Lynch has only gone over 100 yards in four games this season, including last week’s game vs. the Saints. But Lynch has had consistent and solid success no matter how good the defense is. Against the 49ers in the regular season, Lynch had 98 yards rushing, three catches for 27 yards and three touchdowns in the first matchup. The second time, he had 72 yards rushing and a touchdown. It’s not an ideal matchup, but it’s not as bad as you think as he should get around 25 carries.
4. Montee Ball $3,700 – Moreno will get most of the carries. Ball won’t get more than a dozen touches. But for someone who is $3,700 who catches passes, who has averaged over five yards per carry in six of the last seven weeks and could easily vulcher a touchdown, he’s a decent gamble. He’s also scored over 12 FPTS in four of the last eight weeks.
5. Shane Vereen $6,300 – He hasn’t had much of a role in the passing game in the last four weeks. That could change with the nicer weather and trying to keep up with Manning. He’s dangerously a sneaky good play.
6. LeGarrette Blount $6,900 – Yes, he went off against the Colts. He’s gotten 24 carries in each of the last two weeks. He’s got eight TDs in the last three weeks. But remember this: The Broncos have the fifth-ranked rushing defense, the 26th-ranked pass defense and Blount still splits time with the other backs. Plus, Blount got a large portion of his yards against the Colts (horrible rush defense) on one run and with a huge lead. This won’t happen versus Denver. Blount is more likely to have 16 carries for 70 yards and a touchdown. I’d rather pay Gore’s price for that.
7. Stevan Ridley $5,600 – He’s technically the backup to Blount, but Ridley is still getting around 15 carries per game. But he doesn’t catch passes and will have to score a TD that isn’t on the goalline to have him work out.
1. Julian Edelman $6,900 – He’s been targeted a minimum of nine times each game since Week 12. He’s averaging 8.4 catches for 91.4 yards and .6 touchdowns. Again, the Patriots will throw a lot more in this game than the previous three weeks. Edelman is Brady’s favorite receiver. $6,900 is a bargain.
2. Wes Welker $6,000 – I’m not putting him here because he’s going against New England, or that he wants to make up for his muffed punt. He’s $6,000, is averaging 16.1 FPTS per game and is undervalued from being injured recently. He’s also a very popular target in the red zone for Manning on the pick plays.
3. Eric Decker $6,500 – It’s make or break with Decker. Here are his outputs since week 12: 1.5, 52.4, 28.7, 6.2, 38.1, 12.7, 5.2. Ironically, the 1.5 was against New England, but I wouldn’t look too much into that. Denver took advantage of a short field off New England turnovers in the first half and ran it a ton in the second half and overtime with the weather.
4. Demaryius Thomas $8,100 – I have a good feeling Thomas won’t get played by many people since Welker, Decker and Julius Thomas have much lower salaries. But Thomas does bring consistency and has 22 catches for 290 yards and four touchdowns the last three weeks. If he goes off, you could get a huge advantage against the competition.
5. Anquan Boldin $5,900 – Anquan Boldin continues to crush his opponents as of late, even if it’s a top-notch secondary. In fact, in two of the last three weeks when he went against Carolina and Arizona, Boldin racked up eight catches for 136 yards and nine receptions for 149 yards with a touchdown respectively. Boldin also had eight catches for 93 yards in his last meeting with Seattle. People could stay away from him given Seattle’s pass defense. He’s certainly worth considering.
6. Danny Amendola $4,900 – This is the second-lowest salary Amendola has had all season. A lot of people will probably play him and hope he has a big game. But remember, since returning from injury in the beginning of October, he’s only gone over 55 yards three times, including his three receptions for 77 yards last week. Even though I think New England will throw more and he could meet his salary, Brady will spread the wealth too much and Amendola get overplayed.
7. Michael Crabtree $5,300 – Here are Crabtree’s averages from the regular season and playoffs: 7.6 targets, 4.3 receptions and 62.1 yards. He also has one touchdown on the year (which is seven games played). Against Seattle he was targeted eight times and caught four passes for 40 yards. Boldin has brought much better production and is only $500 more.
8. Doug Baldwin $3,000 – Percy Harvin is out. Baldwin should get a few more targets and actually caught four touchdowns from week 9-14. For minimum salary, it could be worse.
9. Golden Tate $4,400 – This is quite amazing. Russell Wilson has thrown 26 touchdown passes on the season. No Seattle wide receiver has caught more than five of them. Tate, Baldwin and Zach Miller have five each with the other 11 being distributed to players you’ve barely heard of. Tate leads the team with 898 yards receiving, but with Harvin out of the picture, there isn’t much of a difference between Baldwin and Tate in terms of the past stats and the focus of the defense. You might as well save the $1,400 if you’re picking a Seattle receiver.
Julius Thomas $5,600 – By far the best tight end play. Vernon Davis is touchdown dependent with Crabtree back, Zach Miller is even more touchdown dependent despite a minimum salary and there are no tight ends worth playing in New England. No other analysis needed.
Vernon Davis $5,000 – While Davis has scored in all but four weeks this season, his receptions are down since Crabtree came back and the Seahawks are a tough matchup. He’s not worth it.
Zach Miller $3,000 – Root your butt off for goal line bootlegs if you go this route.
Stephen Gostkowski $3,400
Matt Prater $3,600
Steven Hauschka $3,200
Phil Dawson $3,000
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