Lineup Prep: Divisional Round

Wed Jan 8 8:54am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Mostert has scores six straight



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Well, that was a fun start to the playoffs. All the games were close and entertaining. Unfortunately, the fantasy performances were not off the charts. It was a pretty mediocre showing from most. The good news is the games were fun to watch. Let’s hope we can get a mix of both good games and big-time fantasy performances this week. 

Now for my random thoughts for the week. . . . . 

The big question after last week is will Tom Brady return next season? It is a great question. I really have no idea what he will do. It would be really strange to see Brady play for another team, so I have a hard time believing he would return for a team other than the Patriots. For me, if he returns, it will be as the starter for New England. I also think that a likely return is a little stronger after his finish to this season. I can't see him ending his illustrious career with a pick six. Either way, his fantasy value is way down. Brady was 13th in fantasy quarterback scoring each of his last two seasons. 

Derrick Henry is a tough fantasy back to value. He has been amazing the second half of the season and produced the best numbers of any fantasy back on the ground during that stretch. The issue is he doesn’t catch passes. So he really is dependent on rushing yards and touchdowns, which were career highs this year. Can he repeat that in 2020? I think there is a good possibility of that but I have a hard time making him a top-five fantasy back because of his lack of receptions. If he got his receptions up just a little, he would be a surefire top-five fantasy back and pick. Let’s hope the Titans involve him a little more in the passing game next season to take his fantasy numbers to an even higher level. 

I was shocked the Saints lost last week. I really thought they had a legit chance to win it all. This team was very talented on both sides of the ball and playing great football late in the year. The offense could not find it’s rhythm against the Vikings, though. You have to give Minnesota a ton of credit for containing the red hot Saints. The Vikings have a very talented team, so don’t discount them to go on the road and win again this week in San Francisco. Minnesota already shocked us one week, so why not do it again. 

Josh Allen showed he still has a little ways to go to be an elite quarterback in the NFL. He really looked shaky in the Bills playoff game last week. He made some really poor decisions late in that game, showing he might not be quite ready for the big stage. Allen still has a ton of talent and can learn from last week, though, so don’t count him out to be a big-time star in this league. He made big strides this year.

I was really saddened to see Carson Wentz suffer a concussion early in his playoff game. He really carried that offense late in the year and willed this team to a playoff spot. He was the main reason the Eagles made the playoffs but suffered an injury once again. He has really been snake bitten by injuries throughout his career. It would be great to see him play a full season and get a chance to lead his team in the playoffs. I thought Wentz showed a lot this past year with his play. 

I’m really intrigued by several playoff games this weekend. I know the lines are kind of high for several of them, but I think we are in store for a lot of close, well-fought games similar to this past week. Remember, Houston went into Kansas City earlier this year and won. The Vikings just upset the Saints on the road, so don’t overlook them to give San Francisco a real fight. And while Baltimore is rolling, Tennessee has been as hot as any team in the NFL the second half of the season. Lastly, I think the Seahawks and Packers game is the biggest game up for grabs. I could see this one going either way, depending on which offense shows for Green Bay this week. 

As always, don’t forget to check out my weekly rankings here: Divisional Round Rankings

HOT PLAYS

Raheem Mostert, RB, 49ers. Mostert is as hot as any back in the game right now. He has touchdowns six straight games. He has double-digit fantasy points all of those games and three games with 20-plus fantasy points. He keeps getting it done as the lead back for the 49ers. Mostert is the back to use in this offense. Expect more of the same this week against the Vikings, a team middle of the pack against the run. Minnesota has allowed 150-plus rushing yards two of their past three games.

Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs. Mahomes has been a little quiet down the stretch, having fewer than 20 fantasy points three of his last six games. He has been a little more inconsistent than fantasy owners have become accustomed. Expect him to return to his big ways this week against the Texans, though. He threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns against this same Texans team in Week 6. Houston allowed the third most fantasy points to quarterbacks during the regular season. 

Davante Adams, WR, Packers. Adams had another big season as the lead receiver for the Packers. He played his best football late in the year. He had at least seven receptions three straight to end his season and scores four of his last six games. Adams had double-digit targets seven of his last eight games. Adams should get his usual workout this week against the Seahawks. Seattle was 27th against the pass during the regular season, allowing 264-passing yards per game.

COLD PLAYS  

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks. Lynch has touchdowns each of his two games this year but you can’t ignore his production on the ground. He has 18 carries for 41 yards, averaging 2.3 yards per carry. He is clearly a touchdown dependent player, making him a hard player to trust for fantasy teams. He isn’t worth the risk because his ceiling is not very high right now. 

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Titans. Tannehill led his team to a win last week but wasn’t much of a fantasy factor against a good Patriots defense. He didn’t even throw for 100 yards and failed to reach doubt-digit fantasy points. He had been red hot, having multiple touchdowns all 10 of his starts before last week. He has a similar tough matchup this week on the road against the Ravens. Baltimore allowed the third fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks during the regular season and ranked seventh overall against the pass. It could be another down showing for Tannehill this week.

Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings. Rudolph scored a touchdown last week but had just four catches for 31 yards. He has fewer than 50 yards four yards four straight games. He is really a touchdown dependent player because his reception and yardage totals won’t be great. We aren't sure he finds the end zone this week against the 49ers, a team that has limited the tight end this season. The 49ers allowed the sixth fewest fantasy points to tight ends during the regular season.  

SLEEPERS  

Sammy Watkins, WR, Chiefs. Watkins has really been a disappointment much of the year. He has 50 or fewer yards seven straight games. He also hasn’t scored a touchdown since the first week of the season. But even with that said, he is capable of the big game in this explosive offense. And with the Texans likely doing all they can to limit Tyreek Hill, Watkins could get a few more targets than usual this week. Houston was just 30th overall against the pass during the regular season. And in last week’s game, secondary option Duke Williams had a solid showing for the Bills. This bodes well for Watkins to have some success in this one. 

Darren Fells, TE, Texans. Fells has emerged as the top target at tight end for the Texans. He had four receptions for 37 yards on five targets last week. It wasn’t a great showing but decent enough. He is capable of the big game in this offense. Fells actually had his best reception and yardage game of the season against the Chiefs in Week 6. He had six receptions for 69 yards in that game against the Chiefs. It could be more of the same for Fells this week, making him an option to consider using if you don’t have one of the big tight ends in your lineup. 

David Moore, WR, Seahawks. Moore had a solid game in the Seahawks playoff opener last week, catching two passes for 57 yards. He is a big-play threat in this offense, averaging nearly 18 yards per reception. The Seahawks are likely going to need some big plays in this game if they hope to win, so look for Moore to get some chances to stretch the field. He could have a similar showing to last week and might even find the end zone. The Packers were just 18th against the pas during the regular season. 

Duke Johnson, RB, Texans. Johnson has not been off the charts this year but pretty consistent as the pass-catching back for the Texans. He had a decent showing last week, finishing with 68 total yards on six touches. He has at least three receptions four of six games. He plays a Chiefs team this week that he had 54 total yards and a touchdown against in Week 6. This could be a high scoring game with a lot of fantasy points to be had, so getting some secondary options in your lineup like Johnson could be a good move for fantasy teams. 

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: Texans/Chiefs, Seahawks/Packers.

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