When researching DraftKings, I usually end up with a set of core players that end up running through all of my lineups. Typically, they are consistent fantasy producers in good matchups or have value due to an injury. You will likely see them across the fantasy football blogosphere because, well, they’re core plays for a lot of people, especially with just four teams playing in the Championship round. We could probably call them chalk plays too, so there is a good reason to lean toward cash games with these types of players, but even in GPPs, I want consistent and high-upside plays, and sometimes my core players might not be fully in the chalk column. Let’s get to it.
This weekend is all about fitting the best possible high-priced plays in with the best possible value plays, which is pretty much every week, but this week the cavern between those two groups is wide and deep. For quarterback we have Patrick Mahomes and then everyone else. The question is, should we pay up for Mahomes or get riskier to save some cash?
Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs ($7,700)
Mahomes has looked very much like his old self toward the end of the season, as he appears to be healthy after a dislocated knee cap and a sprained ankle earlier in the season. Last week he looked like he was playing a scout team as he blew threw the Texans for seven straight touchdowns, five through the air. I think all three of the other quarterbacks going this week have some upside for their prices, but Mahomes is just too far ahead of them in matchup and ability.
Derrick Henry, Titans ($8,700)
There is a real chance that Henry doesn’t live up to his lofty expectations this week, so fading him isn’t a bad move, but the Chiefs have been so bad against running backs, that I don’t see Henry getting his work scaled back until something like a three-touchdown Chiefs lead in the second-half and even then, he won’t completely disappear, as he has home run ability as a runner. He may not get 30+ carries but he should get us 20 touches and in this matchup, I’m on board.
Damien Williams is also a strong play, and if I can fit both, I will do it, but I’ll likely step things down to my next running back, as we’ll need to find some value.
Raheem Mostert, 49ers ($4,300)
Mostert is risky after he was out-touched by Tevin Coleman last week, but he put up similar efficiency numbers and saw 13 rushing attempts. I think Coleman makes for a strong play this week too, but as the cheaper option in a good matchup with a fluid running back rotation, I like Mostert a lot at his price.
Tyreek Hill, Chiefs ($7,200)
I’d love to have Davante Adams, but we’re going to need to find some value plays and Adams gets the tougher matchup of the two top receivers. Hill had a big game in Tennessee the last time they played and I expect he’ll be used extensively this week in a good matchup again. The Texans did all they could to take him out of last week’s game and Travis Kelce and Damien Williams scored six touchdowns, so that strategy wasn’t a winner, which should give the Titans some pause in implementing a similar plan.
Deebo Samuel, 49ers ($5,500)
Samuel didn’t put up the numbers we hoped last week, but the 49ers passing game wasn’t needed, as they ran the ball 47 times while smashing the Vikings. That could happen again this week, but even in a run-centered game, Samuel came a yard away from finding the end zone and this week gets one of the best matchups, as he’ll see Keving King in coverage, who has been weak at allowing receivers yards after the catch and Samuel is pretty much a good running back with the ball.
Allen Lazard, Packers ($4,400)
Lazard saw 17 targets in the final two games of the season but saw zero last week against the Seahawks. He did miss some time with an ankle injury and Davante Adams and Jimmy Graham were the only receivers to have more than one target in the game, so I think we can give Lazard a pass there.
Lazard will see some of Richard Sherman, but he moves around enough to be free of his coverage more often than not. His ankle injury appears not to be a problem, as he got a full practice in on Friday and wasn’t listed on the injury report. Rodgers also has an affinity for Lazard and the 49ers will do all they can to slow down Adams, which should give Lazard a decent chance to see some good matchups.
Mecole Hardman, Chiefs ($3,800)
Hardman doesn’t get enough work to be considered safe, but he was used more than usual in their first playoff game and has the ability to do a lot with just a few targets. On a regular slate I probably wouldn’t risk Hardman, but I believe in Andy Reid getting his playmakers the ball in good spots.
George Kittle, 49ers ($5,800)
At his price, I don’t think there’s much reason to fade Kittle this weekend. He gets a good matchup and one he already proved his ability, as he caught all six of his targets for 136 yards and a touchdown against the Packers in Week 12. A game where he wasn’t needed last week caused his price to drop and we should reap the rewards.
Jonnu Smith, Titans ($3,400)
Smith is an integral part of the Titans offense when they need to pass the ball and that is a scenario that will likely pop up more this week than their last two playoff games. We saw his amazing ability on his touchdown catch last week and at $3,400, it’s hard to pass on him this week as a value play. I’m perfectly fine with using him in the flex spot with Kittle or vice versa.
San Francisco 49ers ($2,900)
I can see going with the Packers or Chiefs if it fits your lineup but I the 49ers are healthy and stacked with talent on the defensive side of the ball. We saw them smash the Vikings running game and get to Kirk Cousins last week. Their talent is off the charts and at a good price, I’m all in.