Lineup Prep: Wild Card Weekend

Thu Jan 2 1:47pm ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Metcalf setup for big showing



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The regular season might be over but that doesn't mean your fantasy season has to end. There are a lot of fun playoff contests and leagues out there these days. We run several on our site. I highly suggest getting involved in a league if you can. It is a great way to get your fantasy fix a little longer. Plus, there are a lot of interesting formats for leagues, giving you a different fantasy dynamic than during the regular season. So we'll continue with this column throughout the playoffs, getting you ready for your games each week. With that said, here are my random thoughts for the week. . . . .

I always like to give my playoff predictions before the start of the playoffs. So here ya go. All signs point towards the Ravens being the AFC representative in the Super Bowl. I just think they are the most complete team in the NFL, so they are my pick in the AFC. I also like the way the Chiefs are playing, mainly because their defense has taken a big step forward. I just think the Ravens are a tad better, though, but don’t count out the Chiefs. 

The NFC is much tougher. I know they have to play this weekend, but I like the Saints. Again, this is a complete team in my view. The defense has really made strides and the offense is playing the best it has all season. New Orleans is going to be a really tough out and I like them to go all the way. I know they might have to play on the road more than a game, but this team is a veteran team that is playing their best football right now. San Francisco is my next choice in the NFC, but I think the lack of experience of this team right do them in. So I’m looking at a Ravens and Saints matchup in the Super Bowl. And I’ll go with the Ravens to win it all. I just think Lamar Jackson will continue his magical season all the way through the playoffs. 

I think the end of the season for Kenyan Drake has really solidified him as the lead back for the Cardinals for next year. He scored touchdowns three straight to end his year and had 100-plus rushing yards two of his last three games. He just seems a great fit for the Cardinals offense and it makes sense for the team to stick with I'm as the starter. And if that happens, I think he can be a top-10 fantasy back. I know he has burned fantasy teams in the past, but he hasn’t played in an offense like this before. Drake can be the real deal for fantasy teams in 2020 if he is starting for the Cardinals. 

I could not be more excited about the futures of both A.J. Brown and Deebo Samuel. I think these guys are going to be special players. Both are big, strong receivers that make a ton of plays after the catch. They can be elite fantasy receivers for years to come as the top targets in their respective offenses. I like Brown more a little more when it comes to that superstar fantasy factor, but both are very exciting players to me.

Rookie Drew Lock was 4-1 as the starter for the Broncos this year. He played well and looked the part of a legit NFL quarterback. He has a swagger about him and a short memory, giving him a bit of that “it” factor. But with that said, I’m not sold on him being a prolific fantasy starter just yet. He topped 200-passing yards just two of five games and had multiple touchdowns only two games. He will makes some mistakes and miss on some throws down the field. I think he’ll be up and down for fantasy teams in 2020. He might be worth some spot starts but don’t expect a big leap in fantasy production for Lock.

I’m not discounting Saquon Barkley as an elite fantasy back just because of this past season. I don’t think he was healthy much of the year, which really impacted his fantasy numbers. He was healthy down the stretch and showed his fantasy potential when at full strength. He has 20-plus fantasy points each of his last three games and led all fantasy backs in scoring during that stretch. I don’t think you can take him first overall in PPR leagues over Christian McCaffrey next year, but Barkley can still be a top-three pick in my views. He was 11th overall in fantasy running back scoring in a down season that he missed three games because of injury. Barkley can rebound in a big way next year, especially if the Giants hire the right coach to maximize his abilities. 

I’m not sure I ever remember such a dominating season from a fantasy back like the one Christian McCaffrey had this year. He scored more than 150 fantasy points than the second rated back. That is a crazy number, averaging nearly 10 more points a game than the No. 2 fantasy back. He carried nearly all the fantasy teams that draft him to the playoffs this year. He had one of the greatest fantasy seasons ever. 

As always, don’t forget to check out my weekly rankings here: Wild Card Weekend Rankings

HOT PLAYS

Josh Allen, QB, Bills. Allen had a breakout year for the Bills. He was ninth overall in fantasy quarterback scoring. He had 20-plus fantasy points 11 of 16 games. And remember, he played just a handful of snaps the last game of the season. Allen has been rock solid all year. Expect more of the same good production this week against the Texans. This game might be the highest scoring of the bunch this week. The Texans have really struggled defensively much of the year, allowing the second most fantasy points to quarterbacks. 

D.K. Metcalf, WR, Seahawks. Metcalf had a season high 12 targets last week, catching six passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. He has touchdowns two of his last three games. He also has 75-plus yards three of five games. He has emerged as a top target in this offense and is getting consistent work in the passing game. Metcalf is going to be a star in this league and could have his breakout performance this weekend against the Eagles. Philadelphia allows the fourth most fantasy points to receivers.

Miles Sanders, RB, Eagles. Sanders was injured last week but seems to be battling a fairly minor ankle injury. He should be ready to play, which is great news for the Eagles offense. Sanders has been great as the lead back for the Eagles. Sanders is fifth overall in fantasy running back scoring his last three games. Sanders has touchdowns three of five and more than 100 total yards there of those games. As long as he is healthy and playing, Sanders is setup for good things this week against the Seahawks. Seattle is 27th overall against the rush and allow the 13th most fantasy points to running backs.

COLD PLAYS  

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks. Lynch might have led the Seahawks in carries last week but didn’t produce great numbers with all those touches. He ran 12 times for just 34 yards but did score a touchdown, helping his fantasy numbers a little. Either way, he did not produce a much with his touches. And he didn’t catch a pass, which is another mark against him. Lynch probably will do more of the same this week against the Eagles. Philadelphia struggles to stop the pass but do well against the run, ranking third overall against the run while allowing the seventh fewest fantasy points to running backs. Lynch probably isn’t worth the risk on playoffs rosters. 

Will Fuller, WR, Texans. Fuller seems to have a decent chance to return from his groin injury this week. He has been practicing on a limited basis. But even if he returns, we might just stay away. Fuller has not scored a touchdown since Week 5 and has more than 70 yards just two gams all season. He has been pretty mediocre much of the year. The Bills allow the sixth fewest fantasy points to receivers and rank fourth overall against the pass. 

Tom Brady, QB, Patriots. Brady has been pretty mediocre, especially for his standards. His fantasy numbers are down. He has fewer than 20 fantasy points four straight games and six of his last seven games. Look for more mediocre numbers this week against the Titans. Tennessee allows just over 20 points per game. We would not count on Brady to produce big in this matchup. 

SLEEPERS  

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Titans. Tannehill has been red hot since taking over as the starter for the Titans. He is fourth overall in fantasy running back scoring his last three games. He has multiple touchdowns everyone on his starts this years. Tannehill also has 270-plus passing yards three of four games. He gets the Patriots, a team that has been very good defensively much of the season, but had some issues down the stretch. This unit is not invincible by any means. The Patriots allowed 326-passing yards to the Dolphins last week and given up 270-plus passing yard two of four games. Look for Tannehill to have success throwing the ball in this one. 

Dallas Goedert, TE, Eagles. Zach Ertz has a chance to play this weekend but he will not be 100 percent if he suits up for the game. Ertz is pretty beat-up right now. Either way, Goedert will play a big role in the passing game. The Eagles still lack options at receiver, so Goedert will get his targets. He is seventh overall in fantasy tight end scoring his last three games. Goedert has double-digit targets each of his last two games. The Seahawks allow the most fantasy points to tight ends of all the teams playing this week. This bodes well for Goedert to continue his hot play. 

Rex Burkhead, RB, Patriots. Burkhead has picked up his game down the stretch. He has touchdowns two of his last three games and topped 50 total yards in all three teams. He is getting a few more chances and taking advantage. This game seems to be best suited for the Patriots to run the ball, allowing the 14th most fantasy points to running backs. If you want to take a chance on a back this weekend that might not be owned by mean, Burkhead is worth a look in this matchup.  

High/Low Scoring Games

Each week we will take a look at some of the high and low scoring games for the coming week. In high scoring affairs, get your marginal players on those teams in your lineup to take advantage of the possible points barrage. And in the low scoring games, keep those marginal players on the bench and make sure to have your defenses involved in those contests.

High Scoring Games: Bills/Texans, Vikings/Saints, Seahawks/Eagles.

Low Scoring Games: None.

Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at jeff@rtsports.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

Player Notes
Green Bay Packers Jan 17 5:20pm ET

The Green Bay Packers Defense faces a tough task this weekend in the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers. In their regular-season meeting, the Packers gave up 37 points and only dropped Jimmy Garoppolo only three times. They also failed to generate any turnovers. Green Bay's defense may need to lend their offense a helping hand by creating a turnover or two to swing the field position game. If Za-Darius and Preston Smith can ramp up the pressure, the Packers will have a good chance of generating a turnover or two and winning the game. It certainly won't be easy, considering how formidable the 49ers offense has been this season.

From RotoBaller

Jimmy Graham Jan 17 3:50pm ET

Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham gets a tough matchup against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game. Graham has back-to-back 49-year receiving performances, but those games came against teams that struggle to defend the tight end position. The 49ers are not one of those teams. They allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends all season and were the league's stingiest pass defense. Maybe Graham makes a play in the red zone. Still, he's a cheaper DFS play but by no means a comfortable one.

From RotoBaller

Geronimo Allison Jan 17 2:40pm ET

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison (illness) is trending in the right direction to play in the NFC Championship game this weekend against the San Francisco 49ers. Even if available, Allison isn't an option in any fantasy format. The 25-year-old hasn't caught more than four passes in a game this season. It sure doesn't seem like he'll eclipse that mark against the league's best defense with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.

From RotoBaller

Allen Lazard Jan 17 2:30pm ET

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard (ankle) is currently questionable for the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers. There's certainly a risk for injury, considering he re-aggravated the ankle in last week's playoff game. Still, it's hard to ignore the two-game stretch Lazard had to end the season, where he saw 17 targets. That alone makes him worth a gamble, particularly in a must-win game for a Packers team in desperate need of another threat at receiver. Just beware, the matchup isn't ideal. The 49ers allowed only 172 passing yards to the Vikings last week.

From RotoBaller

Davante Adams Jan 17 1:40pm ET

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams gets a tough matchup against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game this weekend. Adams produced only 43 receiving yards and a score against San Francisco in the regular season but still had 12 targets. The star receiver has seen double-digit targets in nine of 13 games played this year. There's not many receivers that you can virtually pencil in for double-digit targets- but Adams is one of them. If fellow receivers Geronimo Allison (illness) and Allen Lazard (ankle) suit up, they may be limited. Adams could be looking at more work than usual, even in a matchup this difficult.

From RotoBaller

San Francisco 49ers Jan 17 1:30pm ET

The San Francisco 49ers Defense enter Championship weekend as the highest-priced fantasy defense. The Niners face the Green Bay Packers, who they demolished 37-8 in Week 12. In that previous contest, the Niners relentlessly harassed future Hall of Famer quarterback Aaron Rodgers, dropping him five times and forcing a fumble. The Packers were a meager one for 15 on third down conversions. The 49ers will need to follow that blueprint again in the critical NFC Championship to emerge victorious. With a higher-intensity contest expected, it could be difficult to splurge on a defense in fantasy compared to other addressable positions.

From RotoBaller

Deebo Samuel Jan 17 1:00pm ET

San Francisco 49ers wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Emmanuel Sanders both offer solid fantasy value in the NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. Both players were limited to under 45 yards apiece in last weekends Divisional Round blowout but were featured early on when the game was still in question. The rookie Samuel has emerged as a consistent dual threat in the latter half of 2019 and is likelier the safer floor. Sanders, the savvy vet has proven himself as a reliable chain-mover with big-play potential. Against the Packers 10th-best pass defense by DVOA, either option seem primed to pop in Sundays winner-take-all battle.

From RotoBaller

Jamaal Williams Jan 17 1:00pm ET

Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams will face off with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game this weekend. Williams has been playing second fiddle to Aaron Jones quite a lot recently, as he hasn't seen double-digit carries since Week 13 against the Giants. It's worth noting that Williams played a large role in the regular-season game against the 49ers, which saw him rack up 18 touches. Green Bay very well could utilize Williams in spurts to keep San Francisco guessing, though his recent downtrend in usage makes him hard to trust.

From RotoBaller

Jimmy Garoppolo Jan 17 12:50pm ET

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is a reasonable DFS bet for Sundays NFC Championship matchup against the Green Bay Packers. Priced as the third-best quarterback, Jimmy G squares off against a strong Packers defensive line that ranked 12th-best in adjusted sack rate during the regular season. Garoppolo was not pressed into service in the Divisional Round blowout win, but will likely be tasked with a tougher test on Sunday. While the Niners have mostly ridden its dominant running game throughout the year, Garoppolo has answered the bell in multiple occasions with three four-touchdown games. With dangerous weapons surrounding him, Garoppolo shouldnt be ruled out in the biggest game of his career to-date.

From RotoBaller

Aaron Jones Jan 17 12:30pm ET

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones will take on the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game this weekend. The 49ers Defense held Jones to just 38 rushing yards in their regular-season meeting. However, the star back has been playing some seriously good football in his last five games, with 501 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns. He's also had 20-plus carries in three straight contests. Expect Green Bay to utilize Jones early and often in screens and runs to combat the 49ers mighty pass rush. Even if Jones doesn't pile up over 100 yards, his propensity to find the end zone and role in the passing game make him a safer play this weekend.

From RotoBaller

Aaron Rodgers Jan 17 12:10pm ET

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will take on the San Francisco 49ers this weekend with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. The 49ers Defense held Rodgers to just 104 passing yards and one touchdown in their regular-season meeting. However, there are a couple things that are different ahead of this matchup. First, tackle Bryan Bulaga will play in this game after being injured in the first quarter against the 49ers previously. Rodgers should have better protection than he had when these teams met. Secondly, Rodgers himself is playing better football than he was during the regular season before this matchup. He has 566 passing yards and four touchdowns in his last two contests. There is also the added motivation of denying a Super Bowl berth to the team that could have drafted him. Play Rodgers on Sunday, despite the tough matchup.

From RotoBaller

Kendrick Bourne Jan 17 12:00pm ET

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne is worth a gamble for Sundays NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. Bourne scored the only receiving touchdown for the Niners in the Divisional Round, adding to his 2019 resume as a legitimate red-zone threat. The third-year pro has just 33 catches this year, including the playoffs, but collected six scores. Despite his risks as a zero-floor fantasy option, Bourne has emerged as a trustworthy target in clutch situations.

From RotoBaller

Raheem Mostert Jan 17 11:40am ET

San Francisco 49ers running backs Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert are both bankable DFS options in Sundays NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. The two backs combined for 163 rushing yards in the Divisional Round, with Coleman riding a hot hand to two touchdowns. Considered a backup for the latter half of the regular season, Coleman played 46 percent of snaps last Sunday compared to Mosterts 34 percent. While the touch forecast for either back is cloudy, the Niners draw one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. The Packers ranked 23rd in rushing DVOA during the regular season with the second-worst defensive line in the league, yielding 4.96 adjusted yards per carry. With a likely floor of 10 touches for each Coleman and Mostert, both runners have great opportunities to make a splash.

From RotoBaller

George Kittle Jan 17 11:30am ET

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (ankle) was a full participant in Thursdays practice and should be fine for Sundays NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. Kittle scared Niner Nation with soreness on the left ankle he chipped earlier this year, but confirms he feels fabulous. Kittle factored more as a blocker in last Sundays Divisional Round blowout but the Niners passed just 19 times. The All-Pro is an integral piece in all facets of the offense so is worth his premium TE1 price in DFS on Sunday.

From RotoBaller

Danny Amendola Jan 17 1:13am ET

Detroit Lions WR Danny Amendola is set to become an unrestricted free agent, but he's a 'prime candidate' to be re-signed, in the opinion of The Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett.

From TheHuddle

Antonio Callaway Jan 16 6:33pm ET

Free-agent WR Antonio Callaway (Browns) signed with the Tampa Bay Vipers of the XFL Thursday, Jan. 16.

From TheHuddle

LeSean McCoy Jan 16 5:43pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs RB LeSean McCoy (illness) remained out of practice Thursday, Jan. 16.

Fantasy Spin: McCoy played just one offensive snap in last week's Divisional Round game against the Houston Texans. He's clearly behind RB Damien Williams and is no longer worth starting.

From TheHuddle

Morris Claiborne Jan 16 5:43pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs QB Matt Moore (illness) and DT Chris Jones (calf) didn't participate in practice Thursday, Jan. 16. DT Khalen Saunders (knee), CB Morris Claiborne (shoulder), CB Kendall Fuller (knee), DE Tanoh Kpassagnon (neck), C Austin Reiter (wrist) and G Andrew Wylie (ankle) practiced in full.

From TheHuddle

Marcedes Lewis Jan 16 5:33pm ET

Green Bay Packers DL Kenny Clark (back), TE Marcedes Lewis (non-injury), LB Preston Smith (ankle), FB Danny Vitale (knee) and CB Tramon Williams (non-injury) were limited participants in practice Thursday, Jan. 16. S Adrian Amos (chest), OT Bryan Bulaga (non-injury), WR Ryan Grant (non-injury), LB Blake Martinez (hand) and OL Billy Turner (ankle) practiced in full.

From TheHuddle

Travis Kelce Jan 16 5:33pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (knee) remained limited at practice Thursday, Jan. 16.

Fantasy Spin: Kelce earned a light practice week while catching 10 of 12 targets for 134 yards and three touchdowns against the Houston Texans in the Divisional Round. He's the week's top tight end option once against this week so long as he takes the field.

From TheHuddle