DraftKings.com NFL DFS Conference Championships Picks and Plays for Cash Game and GPP Lineups
The Conference Championship round of the 2018 NFL Playoffs is here, and everyone is looking to play for the big daily fantasy football money at DraftKings. Throughout the playoffs, we’ll bring you our top NFL DFS picks at each position, separating them into Cash and GPP plays.
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As with any daily fantasy sport, the advice below is relevant for fantasy purposes. A player or team might be better or worse from a fantasy perspective than in real life due to matchup, price, gameflow, and various other factors. This is important to remember when constructing a roster at any of the daily fantasy sports sites.
Finally, be sure and check the forecasts for Philadelphia and New England this weekend.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+9) at New England Patriots (Over/Under – 46.5)
Tom Brady, Case Keenum, Nike Foles, and Blake Bortles. Those are the four starting quarterbacks still remaining in the playoffs. You’ll be hard-pressed to feel as good about Keenum, Foles, or Bortles as you do about Brady, as the veteran superstar threw for 333 yards and three touchdowns against the Titans last week. Sure, the Jags’ secondary is the best in the NFL, but this is Tom Brady ($7.7K) in the playoffs. He’s very much in play in Cash and tournaments, a week removed from the Jaguars allowing Ben Roethlisberger to throw for 469 yards and five touchdowns. Don’t get cute here.
Elsewhere in this stacked Patriots offense, Rex Burkhead ($5.4K) is expected to return from injury, making for a very crowded backfield. That didn’t matter last week. Dion Lewis and James White each dropped more than 20 DraftKings points against Tennessee. I am concerned Burkhead may not get a ton of work this week, but he’s a tournament option. Dion Lewis ($8.1K), meanwhile, has seen his price skyrocket to north of $8K. That’s way too much for me, even against a Jaguars defense that ranked in the bottom five in rushing DVOA this season.
James White ($4.9K) is the last man to consider, but I just don’t know if there’s enough to go around. My interest remains in Burkhead, who probably could have gone last week if the Pats actually needed him. And for what it’s worth, he averaged over 20 DK points per week in his final three full games before injury. And Bill Belichick loves him. What else is there?
Now, to the receivers. This, somehow, is an even more tricky call than the crowded backfield. Brandin Cooks has disappeared as of late; Chris Hogan had just four receiving yards last week; then, Danny Amendola exploded for 11 catches and 112 yards. Of course, Rob Gronkowski ($7.9K), defying me after fading him, put up six receptions for 81 yards and a score last round.
The Jaguars apply a good amount of pressure against quarterbacks, and the Pats do not have an elite offensive line. This seems like a game for Brady to seek out his staple in Gronkowski while working his running backs into the offense as well. Picking out a receiver is very difficult against this elite Jags secondary. But Amendola’s big Divisional Round suggests he and Brady are very much in sync. Still, given the Pats are the only team expected to score more than 21 points, you need to figure out what receiver does get involved. I prefer Cooks and Hogan in tournaments for their upside, while Amendola appears the safest Cash option of the bunch.
On the opposing end, the Jaguars offer very little of interest from a fantasy perspective outside of Leonard Fournette’s insane upside and Blake Bortles’ low cost. Bortles ($5.0K) has almost no upside, even against a Pats defense that struggled this season. Even though he’s such a cheap option, I like him only marginally better than Nick Foles, thanks largely to the former’s rushing ability.
Meanwhile, Fournette ($7.2K) managed to turn three of 25 carries last week into touchdowns, making for a career day in a game that almost saw 100 combined points. The Patriots allowed the second-highest yards per attempt this season (4.7), which is a nice bump up from Fournette’s season average of 3.9. If he can manage north of four yards per carry, he’ll finish with a score somewhere between respectable and GPP-winning.
As for Jacksonville receivers, I’m not interested. The team carries an implied total of under 19. Plus, Blake Bortles hasn’t allowed a receiver to go for more than 50 yards in the playoffs. If I had to play one, it’d be Marqise Lee ($4.4K). He’s flashed upside and is probably Jacksonville’s only decent receiver.
Lastly, you can, and potentially should, go with the New England Patriots D/ST here. The Vikings D/ST might seem like the better play, but this just has all the writings of a Blake Bortles blowup spot. If the Jags can’t get the ball moving on the ground and Brady gets control of this one early, I see the Pats D/ST really coming up big in a potential blowout.
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Minnesota Vikings (-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (Over/Under – 38)
What this game lacks in DFS appeal, it makes up in real-life intrigue. Two replacement quarterbacks step in for a chance to battle the reigning Super Bowl champs (or, well, the Jacksonville Jaguars) in two weeks. We’ve got two very stout defenses. There’s an over/under of just 38 in a game expected to be decided by three points. It seems like the kind of game that could be both sloppy and competitive at the same time.
The Eagles are in a much worse situation, as Case Keenum might actually be the best quarterback in Minnesota. Foles is not the best QB in Philly. Home underdogs with an implied total of just 17.5, Philadelphia has a tall order against a Vikings defense that has really come together around Anthony Barr over the past few seasons.
Even at a low cost, Foles seems like a no-go in any format, unless you’re willing to put your hard-earned money behind the “veteran backup comes through with an insane playoff performance” narrative. Naturally, his wide receivers suffer as a result of him, and not Carson Wentz, playing quarterback. That said, Alshon Jeffery ($4.6K) is too cheap not to be considered. The same can be said for Nelson Agholor ($4.8K). The latter has been more consistent as of late, but Jeffery came through with 10.1 DK points to Agholor’s 5.4 last week.
Falling between those two in DK scoring last week, Zach Ertz ($5.3K) dropped 6.2 DK points. Like the wide receiving corp, Ertz has been priced down with the big change in QB. His performance has been hit-or-miss, but he’s averaging more than seven targets per game in contests with Foles. He’ll be needed this week. All that said, I prefer him in GPPs.
Lastly, we come to Jay Ajayi ($5.2K), a workhorse back who has yet to really find a home in this league. The Eagles traded for him because they thought they’d be competing for a title. Now, his responsibility is far greater without Carson Wentz. Ajayi saw 15 carries last week. And even though he didn’t do much with them, his salary is too low for a guy getting that kind of workload. He is a better GPP option than Cash.
Then, there’s Minnesota, a team with a quarterback who has proven himself capable this season. The Eagles have a very solid defense, but they are exploitable. While they have absolutely shut down teams of late (allowing their last three opponents a combined 26 points), it was just last month they allowed the Giants to score 29 points and the Rams to score 35.
Case Keenum ($6.6K) is somehow the second-best quarterback remaining in the playoffs. His game-winning pass to Stefon Diggs last week was legitimately jaw-dropping (in large part due to the defensive mistake that enabled it). The Eagles can apply pressure, so I don’t expect Keenum to have a lot of time to work. At $6.6K, he’s just $1.1K cheaper than Brady. Nevertheless, I’m going to whatever length I have to in order to roster Brady over Keenum. But if you just can’t make it work, Keenum is an interesting tournament option. Just remember his 318 yards and one touchdown last week is not a good representation of the football he played up until the game-winning play.
Moving to the backfield, I’m mostly staying away from Latavius Murray ($5.7K) in this one. The Eagles’ defensive line is just brutal. Jerick McKinnon ($5.1K) is the other backfield option on the Vikings, and I do think he has more upside given his pass-catching ability. He and Murray are GPP-only for me, though I’m really looking to shy away from the latter.
Now, the wideouts are where this game gets really interesting. Stefon Diggs ($6.9K) just made the play of his life to beat New Orleans. He’ll be riding high in another very winnable game. I like the narrative around the young guy breaking out with a big playoff run. After last week, he’s off to the right start.
But up until the game-winning catch, Adam Thielen ($7.4K) outshone Diggs. At just $500 more, I’ll take Thielen’s consistency and upside over Diggs’. That said, I’m not opposed to stacking the two in a tournament lineup. They each saw six catches last week and should be able to manage a similar output. On a short slate, you might not be able to afford to miss out on those six catches.
Finally, we have Kyle Rudolph ($4.5K), who certainly had his moments this season. Those included four consecutive double-digit DK performances. Last week, he pulled in five catches for 28 yards. That only amounted to 7.8 DK points, but the fact that Keenum is willing to dump it off to Rudolph gives him a solid floor on DraftKings, where receptions are each worth a full point. He’s squarely in play as a mid-range tight end for both Cash and GPP.
With the offense covered, that leaves us with the Minnesota Vikings D/ST. The Eagles have the lowest implied total on the slate, which gives this Vikings D/ST a high floor. However, I still lean Patriots, as the Vikings could find themselves in a competitive game. Choosing Pats vs. Blake Bortles or Vikings vs. Nick Foles isn’t easy, but I’m all in on the Bortles blowup spot. I expect Foles to more or less just fade into the sunset.