Insights

NFL Conference Championship Round for DFS: PROJECTIONS FOR FANDUEL

After a crazy week in the Wild Card Round that saw all four visiting teams win, the divisional round was much more true to form as all four home teams won. There didn’t seem to be any major controversies like we saw in the Wild Card weekend and the defenses seem to have taken over in the playoffs. Of the eight playoff games so far, only two have seen a combined score of over 50 while four of them have had fewer than 40 points scored. Of the four teams left, all four defenses ranked in the top ten this season for fewest points allowed per game and fewest yards allowed per game. With that being said, I wouldn’t look for many huge performances from the offensive players this weekend.

Quarterbacks

Player Salary Projected Total
Cam Newton 8500 23.36
Carson Palmer 7700 17.86
Tom Brady 8100 16.09
Peyton Manning 6700 10.44

 

Cam Newton- last week was Newton’s lowest point total for any game this season with 10.74 points. Not to make excuses, but it was against the Seahawks and they were the second ranked defense against QBs this season. This week’s opponent, the Cardinals, ranked 13th against QBs this season, so I expect Newton to post much better numbers this week. The Cardinals are no slouch on defense, but they are a little more vulnerable against the pass than they are against the run. However, I see Newton doing more damage with his legs than he does with his arm and I can see him getting 50 yards or so on the ground and a rushing TD. Given the matchups the other three teams have and their rankings against the QB, I think Newton is the choice at QB this week.

Arizona Cardinals Quarterback Carson Palmer (3).
Arizona Cardinals Quarterback Carson Palmer (3).

Carson Palmer- projects out at 17.86 this week and that is a few points below his season average of 20 points per game. Carolina’s defense ranks 11th against the QB this year and thus the reason for the projection being below the average. Palmer has been pretty consistent this year between home games and road games with only a slight difference in the performances and he actually averaged a tick higher on the road. Carolina is a little more vulnerable against the run than they are the pass, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Arizona run a little more than usual. Should Arizona fall behind like Seattle did, they may have to pass more often and that could help Palmer’s numbers in the end.

Tom Brady- of the four QBs left in the playoffs, Brady had the best game of the bunch last week with 26.68 points against the Chiefs. Denver’s defense ranks number one against QBs this season and they were the only team in the league to allow less than 200 yards per game in passing. That being said, Brady did put up 23.2 points against the Broncos in the Week 12 overtime loss. In that game, Brady threw for 280 yards and three TDs. One difference in that game is that Brock Osweiler was starting at QB for Denver and this time it will be Peyton Manning. This may sound crazy, but I think having Manning under center for the Broncos will actually hurt Brady’s numbers as Manning manages the clock better than Osweiler and this will result in fewer plays for Brady than we saw in the previous matchup. I can see Brady throwing for around 250 yards and a couple of TDs.

NFL: DEC 14 Broncos at Chargers

Peyton Manning- Manning only had 10.78 points in last week’s win over Pittsburgh and that is right at his season average. In what may be his swan song, Manning has not put up very good numbers, but the Broncos still managed to win and I think that is the most important thing to him. New England’s defense ranks 15th against the QB this season and that is the lowest of the four teams left. I look for this game to be similar to last week’s Broncos’ game with total scoring being right around 40 points between the two teams. This leads me think that Manning’s numbers won’t be much better than last week.

Running Backs

Player Salary Projected Total
David Johnson 8000 12.75
Jonathan Stewart 7000 9.99
Ronnie Hillman 5700 7.95
James White 6400 7.60
C.J. Anderson 6300 7.47
Andre Ellington 5000 7.00
Steven Jackson 5700 5.99
Brandon Bolden 5000 4.76
Cameron Artis-Payne 4900 4.16
Mike Tolbert 4600 3.48

 

David Johnson- Johnson managed 10.8 points last week against the Packers 15th ranked defense against RBs and this week he is going against the Panthers and their 18th ranked defense against RBs. His projected total is a little higher than what he got last week and right at his season average. Johnson came on strong in the second half of the season and had a great run in Weeks 13 through 16 when he averaged over 24 points per game. I can see Carolina focusing on shutting down the Cardinals’ passing game and perhaps opening the door a little for Johnson to have a good game. I wouldn’t look for anything crazy like the 42.9 points he put up against Philadelphia in Week 15, but I can see him getting a little better than projected total.

Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart (28).
Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart (28).

Jonathan Stewart- returned to the lineup last week and had a really good game with 23.6 points. Stewart ran for 106 yards and two TDs last week against the Seahawks and their number one ranked defense against RBs. He is the only RB that has reached the 100-yard plateau in the playoffs so far this postseason. Arizona’s defense ranks 9th against RBs this season and they will likely gear up on stopping the run this weekend since the Panthers ranked in the bottom half of the league in passing, but ranked second in rushing yards per game. I think Stewart has a solid game this week, but I don’t think he hits the 20-point mark again this week.

Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson- it’s almost as if the Broncos view these two as interchangeable and they seem to rotate as to which one is the flavor of the day. Of late, Anderson has been the more productive of the two, averaging 13.8 points over the last three games while Hillman has averaged 10.9. Hillman has actually had a few more touches than Anderson in the last few weeks. The biggest difference between the performances in the last three weeks is that Anderson has scored a TD in each of the last three games. If he keeps that streak going, he is likely to be close to his average over the last three weeks rather than his projected total. New England ranks 11th against RBs this season, so it won’t be easy for either of these guys to put up big numbers, but I like Anderson better for this week.

Jacksonville Jaguars outside linebacker Dan Skuta (55).
Jacksonville Jaguars outside linebacker Dan Skuta (55).

James White, Stephen Jackson and Brandon Bolden- these three haven’t done much in recent weeks. Last week against the Chiefs the trio had a total of 11 touches and 7.9 fantasy points. The Broncos rank 12th against RBs this season and Kansas City ranked second, so we could see a little more production out of them, but I wouldn’t count on it. Plus, how do you know which one is going to be Belichick’s favorite at any given moment? I would shy away from all three of these guys.

Wide Receivers

Player Salary Projected Total
Demaryius Thomas 7600 14.85
Emmanuel Sanders 7400 13.78
Larry Fitzgerald 8000 13.17
Julian Edelman 7800 11.70
John Brown 6500 10.76
Michael Floyd 7500 9.11
Ted Ginn, Jr. 6200 8.93
Danny Amendola 6000 5.50
Corey (Philly) Brown 5300 4.61
Jerricho Cotchery 5200 4.57
Jamarcus Nelson 4800 4.45
Brandon LaFell 6100 4.28
Devin Funchess 5100 4.11

 

Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders- of the four teams left, the lowest ranking of any defense against any position is 22nd and that is where New England ranks against WRs and that is why we see this tandem at one and two in the projections this week. These two are neck and neck in terms of total points over the last three games with Thomas having 37.6 and Sanders having 36.1. How they got to these totals is a different story as Thomas has had 8, 20.2 and 9.4 points in the three games while Sanders has been more consistent with 11, 10.4 and 14.7, respectively. That leads me to this conclusion: Sanders is the safer bet, but Thomas has the greater upside potential.

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11).
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11).

Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown and Michael Floyd- this trio has had a great season, but they have gotten to their totals in much different ways. Fitzgerald has had one of his best seasons and has been pretty consistent all season. Brown and Floyd seem to alternate in terms of which one is hot at any given time. Fitzgerald had the top performance of any WR in this postseason last week with 27.6 points with eight catches for 176 yards and a TD. Floyd had 16.1 points with only three catches for 26 yards, but he had two TDs. Brown managed 10.9 points on five catches and 82 yards. This week against a Carolina defense that ranks 13th against WRs on the season, I can see all three hitting double-digits again, but I think Fitzgerald is the best bet of the three from a risk/reward standpoint.

Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell and Danny Amendola- Edelman came back from injury last week and it was as if he had never been gone. He grabbed 10 passes for 100 yards and he even had one carry for 11 yards. On the other hand, LaFell and Amendola did not have good games and neither one of them has had a good game in the last three weeks. Neither Amendola nor LaFell have tallied more than five points in any of the last three games. Denver ranks third against WRs on the season, so it isn’t going to get any easier for this trio. Edelman and Amendola both missed the game against Denver in Week 12 and LaFell only had 5.8 points in that game as Brady went to his TEs and RBs more than usual. I can see Edelman having a decent game this week, but the run of bad games for Amendola and LaFell will likely continue.

Ted Ginn Jr.
Ted Ginn Jr.

Ted Ginn, Jr. and Jerricho Cotchery- this duo has been incredibly inconsistent this year. Ginn had a great stretch from Week 14 through 16 when he averaged almost 24 points a game and now in the last two games he has averaged 1.25 points. Cotchery averaged 6.3 points on the season and in the last four games he is averaging 7.15, but he has had as many as 12.2 and as few as 3.7 in that four week stretch. The Cardinals rank 7th against WRs this season and that isn’t the answer to inconsistent play, facing a top-ten defense. I don’t like either of these two in this week’s contest.

Tight Ends

Player Salary Projected Total
Rob Gronkowski 8900 14.72
Greg Olsen 7000 12.18
Scott Chandler 4600 5.18
Darren Fells 4700 4.62
Owen Daniels 5000 3.80

 

Rob Gronkowski- Gronk had a good game last week with 23.8 points with seven catches for 83 yards and two TDs. This snapped a streak of eight straight games where he hadn’t eclipsed 20 points. Gronk averaged 14.6 points on the season and he is projected slightly above that. The Broncos rank 17th against TEs this season and thus the reason the projection is so close to the average. I don’t look for a high scoring game in Denver this weekend, but I think Brady looks for Gronk in the red-zone as he always does and the big TE ends up with at least one TD.

Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen (88).
Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen (88).

Greg Olsen- like the Carolina WRs, Olsen has been somewhat inconsistent this season, but he has averaged 11.8 points on the year. He had a good game last week with 16.7 points on six receptions, 77 yards and a TD. Carolina will rely more heavily on the run against Arizona as they usually do, but I can still see Olsen being targeted by Newton quite frequently as he seems to be more reliable than any of the WRs. The Cardinals rank 18th against the TE and that is their lowest ranking against any position. Look for Olsen to have a similar game to what he had last week.

Scott Chandler- Chandler is the forgotten man sometimes as Brady, Gronkowski and Edelman seem to steal all the attention in the New England offense, but Chandler has had a nice year. He averaged 5.1 points per game on the season and when teams double-team Gronkowski, Brady has been known to look Chandler’s way in the red-zone.

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