FanNation weekly fantasy football: Best picks for NFL divisional round
There are just four games and eight teams at fantasy owners’ disposal this weekend. That, of course, limits our options on FanNation, but it also might make things a little easier, by way of elimination. At the risk of stating the obvious, players on teams who win generally score more fantasy points than those on teams that lose. I’m really splitting the atom here, I know. Let that self-apparent knowledge guide you in your selections this week.
Before setting your roster on the FanNation platform, first decide which four teams you believe will be victorious. From there, craft the best cocktail you can from the available ingredients with one part quarterback, one part running back, and one part wide receiver or tight end. Then, compete directly with me by clicking here, or hit up another available contest on the FanNation platform.
Here’s my divisional round lineup:
Quarterback: Tom Brady (projected points: 22)
Also considered: Aaron Rodgers (25), Andrew Luck (24)
Forget what the Ravens did against the Steelers last week. This remains an undermanned secondary, and remember that they were able to keep an check an offense that was without its best player, who just happens to be one of the most lethal offensive weapons in the league. The Patriots will be at full strength on Sunday, and that should be a terrifying prospect for Baltimore. Brady threw for multiple touchdowns and at least 245 yards in all but one his final 11 starts of the season, not including Week 17, in which he made a token appearance before giving way to Jimmy Garoppolo. The Ravens allowed the third-most points to receivers this year, and while they held tight ends in check, they didn’t face anyone like Rob Gronkowski. Brady should carve them up in Foxboro.
Even with a gimpy calf, Rodgers is a strong choice with the Packers hosting the Cowboys. His higher projection, as well as a desire to use one of his teammates at another position, pushed me in Brady’s direction.
Luck could very well lead the Colts to an upset of the Broncos, especially given the way they played the final month of the season. If you’re looking to use other players on New England and Green Bay, say Rob Gronkowski and Eddie Lacy, I could see opting for Luck at quarterback.
Running Back: Marshawn Lynch (projected points: 18)
Also considered: C.J. Anderson (15), Eddie Lacy (14)
You don’t have to look too hard to find someone espousing the virtues of the Carolina Panthers late-season charge to the playoffs. We would all do well to remember how they got to this point. After two straight months of losing, capped off by a 31-13 drubbing at the hands of the Vikings, they beat New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Cleveland and Atlanta to rally to a record of 7-8-1 and the NFC South crown. Then they knocked off Arizona, which was running on fumes and forced to play, for an entire playoff game, Ryan Lindley at quarterback. Does this sound like a team that presents even a remote threat to the Seahawks? I didn’t think so. Expect Lynch to run all over the Panthers’ defense, and the Seahawks to be comfortably on their way to the NFC Championship Game.
The Colts have had a handful of ugly performances against the run, while the Broncos leaned on Anderson over the final month of the season. If that formula comes through this weekend, and if the Broncos are protecting a late lead, Anderson could be in for a big day.
You want to be invested in the Packers this weekend. It’s just a matter of which player you select. Lacy is a perfectly acceptable choice, as the Green Bay running game surged in the back half of the season. I personally prefer to rely on the team’s passing attack.
Wide Receiver/Tight End: Jordy Nelson (projected points: 18)
Also considered: Rob Gronkowski (12), Randall Cobb (15)
Based on my criteria for setting my lineup, Nelson was an easy choice for this slot. I wanted players from teams I believe will win, as I think the Packers and Patriots will do. That led me to either Brady or Rodgers at quarterback, and Nelson or Gronkowski here. The Cowboys may have allowed the seventh-fewest points to receivers this year, but they only faced a top-12 fantasy receiver five times this year (Odell Beckham and Jeremy Maclin twice, Alshon Jeffery once). They gave up an total of 32 receptions for 481 yards and five touchdowns to those receivers, good for an average of 15.62 points per game in standard-scoring leagues. Nelson is rightly the highest-price receiver this week, but he will come through for his owners.
Gronkowski is also a great choice here, and with his 12-point projection, I can see how he would be more attractive than Nelson. Part of the reason he lost out is because I prefer Brady to Rodgers this week, so he took up my allotment of Patriots. If I went with Rodgers, Gronk would have been the selection at WR/TE.
The logic for Cobb is the same as that for Nelson. The Cowboys have struggled against the few elite receivers they have played this season. Cobb’s lower projection makes him a bargain option to Nelson.