It’s NFL playoff time. After 18 weeks of regular season, the depth charts should be mostly settled. There should be few questions left about using the player. Let’s know who the stars are, knowing that there will occasionally be some comets to brighten up the postseason.
At one point, Tom Brady’s playoff success came as a surprise. Likewise Eli Manning’s. There was once a blockbuster Super Bowl performance by someone named Timmy Smith. We’ve seen incredible games that turned run-of-the-mill players into legends – think David Tyree (Helmet Catch) or Derrick Mason (Music City Miracle).
However, sometimes the breakout benefits come from those whose breakout itself isn’t surprising, it’s the spike in usage that was unexpected.
Look no further than last season. Leonard Fournette spent most of the Buccaneers’ season playing behind Ronald Jones. In the final few games of the regular season, Fournette received the starting nod. But he wasn’t the center of attention until the playoffs.
His three highest workloads came during the four-game playoff run at Tampa Bay. All four of those games were among the top 5 of his season rushing totals. He scored four goals in the postseason after catching just three touchdowns in the first 13 games of the season.
So who will be this season’s fournette? Maybe Fournette again. He could be returning from a hamstring injury this week. But given the Bucs’ backfield depth, a return to form from him wouldn’t come as a huge surprise.
Instead, let’s look at Cam Akers. The Rams running back tore his Achilles tendon last season. Surprisingly, he’s already returned and made limited play in the season finale.
Sony Michel still got the bulk of the work, 22 touches to Akers’ eight, but neither was particularly productive against the 49ers. That doesn’t encourage the Rams to force Akers to act (since he did nothing to justify it), but Michel did nothing to dissuade such action (since he too was a pedestrian).
The madman thinks this was the worst we’ll see the rest of the way from Akers’ workload. We’d expect Akers to take on a bigger role with each round the Rams advance.
But that doesn’t do much to inspire confidence this week. What we like is the price of Akers on daily websites. He’s $1,300 cheaper than Michel at FanDuel and $1,200 cheaper at DraftKings.
For that difference, let’s take a lighter workload – which should still be a larger percentage of the work than last week, if not the bulk of the work. Plus, it gives us more salary freedom to hunt down bankable assets like Cooper Kupp and Ja’Marr Chase for our tournament rosters.
It’s not a hit by any means, but it’s rare to get someone with so much explosive potential at such an affordable price.
Where the wild things are
Joe Burrow QB, Bengals, vs Raiders (FanDuel $7,800/DraftKings $6,800)
We prefer this game topping the over (49) than the 49ers Cowboys (50.5) – Vegas’ two highest scores this week. The Burrows-Ja’Marr Chase connection has been largely unstoppable this season.
Josh Allen QB, Bills, vs. Patriots (FD $8,800/DK $7,800)
Allen answered one of his worst games of the season (under 12 fantasy points in Week 13 against the Patriots) with an outstanding game in the Week 16 rematch (over 30). With cold temperatures on Saturday, which will be closer to the first matchup, we don’t expect Peak Allen – the most expensive QB at both locations.
Derrick Gore RB, Chiefs, vs. Steelers (FD $5,400/DK $4,000)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire is out with a shoulder problem. Darrel Williams struggles with a toe problem. Gore has looked capable while being forced into duty and that could happen again on Sunday.
Miles Sanders RB, Eagles, at Buccaneers (FD $5,900/DK $5,100)
He is returning from hand surgery after missing the final two weeks of the regular season. But our bigger concern is that we don’t trust Philadelphia’s carry propagation. Jordan Howard could carry the goal line and Boston Scott is unlikely to go away.
Josh Jacobs RB, Raiders, at Bengals (FD $7,200/DK $6,500)
Not a sexy choice, and it’s TD addicted, but it comes at a slightly discounted price – especially at FanDuel. The Bengals have been their worst against opposing fantasy RBs this season.
Tyreek Hill WR, Chiefs, vs. Steelers (FD$8,000/DK$7,100)
Has a healing heel that has contributed to five underperforming games in the last six of the season. Just hasn’t looked like himself lately.
Darren Waller TE, Raiders, at Bengals (FD$6,300/DK$5,700)
Has had exactly one double-digit PPR outing since Week 10 – despite missing five games. Much better like some cheaper options.
Fantasy madness daily duel
Daily Fantasy Lineup Suggestions by Drew Loftis
Top Price: $25,000
Can total: $125,000
QB: Joe Burrow, $7,800
RB: Cam Akers, $5,400
RB: Derrick Gore, $5,400
WR: Ja’Marr Chase, $8,200
WR: Cooper coup, $10,000
WR: Scotty Miller, $5,200
AT THE: Dallas Goedert, $5,900
To bend: Hunter Renfrow, $7,300
DEF: Chiefs = $4,800
Season endangered: $155
Season Wins: Jarad Wilk $100; $15 drawn