SB Nation brings you the top Daily Fantasy options each week of the postseason through the conference championships. Like last week, we have only four games to work with, so choices are limited and low-owned values are harder to come by. Nevertheless, here are the top value plays of the week, with an eye toward low ownership and high upside.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots vs. Tennessee Titans ($7,000 DK, $8,800 FD)
Whether you believe the ESPN story or not about a power struggle between owner, head coach and quarterback, the effect on Saturday night should be explosive. An angry GOAT is a deadly GOAT, and let’s not forget that Alex Smith looked like a world-beater before Travis Kelce was knocked out of last week’s Wild Card Game. The Patriots have a pretty good tight end, too, and arguably a better wide receiver corps. The Patriots almost never let up in the Divisional Round, no matter how big the lead. Brady’s ceiling is sky high.
Case Keenum, Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints ($6,100 DK, $7,600 FD)
If I were to make a QB-WR stack this weekend, it would be Keenum to Adam Thielen. Keenum is a great matchup for a Saints defense that is prone to allowing big plays in the passing game and struggles against slot receivers. Keenum had at least two touchdown passes in six of seven games from Weeks 8-15 and has shown an ability to run the ball against a defense susceptible to mobile QBs. At a $900 discount, Keenum is a nice pivot off Brady.
Discount Darling: Marcus Mariota, Titans at Patriots ($5,900 DK, $7,500 FD)
Mariota finds himself in the exact same scenario as last week when he lit up the Chiefs in the second half, both as a passer and a runner, to become the DFS darling of Wild Card Week. It’s inconceivable that the Titans will be playing with a lead on Saturday and focusing solely on Derrick Henry, so expect Mariota to rack up stats again, especially in the second half — although more likely as garbage-time production, rather than Comeback 2.0.
Avoid: Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers ($5,000 DK, $7,100 FD)
It’s hard to remember now, but Bortles almost lost the starting job in the preseason because of his shaky play. He looks like that guy again at the worst possible time. This shapes up as a Leonard Fournette game — the rookie destroyed the Steelers earlier this season — as the Jags look to hide their shrinking QB rather than set him up for a big passing day.
Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars ($9,600 DK, $9,400 FD)
We saw a hobbled LeSean McCoy have a strong showing against the vaunted Jaguars defense last week. That’s not a good sign for Jacksonville, as the Steelers are likely to lean heavily on their all-world running back. And if the playoffs weren’t enough incentive — not to mention revenge for a blowout loss earlier this season — Bell fired a shot across Steelers management’s bow on Thursday, suggesting he would retire after this season rather than accept another franchise tag. Bell will look to prove his worth on the field, and the Steelers will be happy to give him every opportunity to do so, giving Bell a high ceiling.
Dion Lewis, New England Patriots vs. Tennessee Titans ($6,600 DK, $7,600 FD)
If Rex Burkhead is unable to suit up — and his status remained iffy on Thursday — Lewis should maintain the volume that led to massive DK points totals in Weeks 16 and 17. Lewis had 24 and 26 touches in those weeks, as well as a combined 12 pass targets. The latter is really key, as the Titans allowed the most receiving yards to running backs in the league in 2017.
Discount Darling: Latavius Murray, Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints ($5,400 DK, $6,800 FD)
If you expect the Vikings to play with the lead at home on Sunday, then Murray is your man in the backfield. Murray had at least 20 carries in each of Minnesota’s final three games and at least 15 carries in all but one game since Week 6. Murray is also the clear red-zone back. The Saints have had issues stopping the run game this season. If you think the Vikings will be in more of a shootout, Jerick McKinnon ($4,900) has value, especially after Christian McCaffrey went wild as a pass-catching back last week.
Avoid: Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles ($5,900 DK, $7,200 FD)
The Eagles are arguably the best of the eight remaining teams against the run, and with Tevin Coleman playing an active role, Freeman’s upside is somewhat limited.
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles ($7,900 DK, $8,800 FD)
I would never tell anyone not to play Antonio Brown ($8,100), especially after he unloaded on the Jaguars for a 10-157 line earlier this season. But Jones has a much easier matchup against an Eagles defense that was leaky to perimeter receivers over the final few weeks of the regular season. Robert Woods had a huge game against the Falcons last week, and Jones has always come up big in the postseason.
Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints ($7,600 DK, $7,600 FD)
If you want to pivot off both Brown and Jones — which isn’t a bad idea if you’re trying to fit Bell and/or Fournette into your lineups — Thielen faces a Saints defense that has been exploited by slot receivers all season. Thielen averaged just six targets over the final three games of the regular season, but one was played in bitter cold in Green Bay and another was a meaningless Week 17 game. Expect the Vikings to make Thielen the top target on Sunday.
Discount Darling: Nelson Agholor, Eagles vs. Falcons ($4,800 DK, $6,400 FD)
Agholor has been a favorite target of Nick Foles down the stretch and has enjoyed a breakout season in 2017. He runs the vast majority of his routes out of the slot, which is where Cooper Kupp was able to shred the Falcons last week.
Avoid: Michael Thomas, Saints at Vikings ($7,200 DK, $8,200 FD)
I was wary of playing wide receivers against Xavier Rhodes in the regular season, and I’m not changing that stance in the postseason. Thomas had a modest 5-54 line against the Vikings in Week 1, and given the elite performance of Rhodes all season, a similar line is highly likely on Sunday.
Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots vs. Tennessee Titans ($7,100 DK, $8,500 FD)
Travis Kelce was well on his way to a massive output last week before being sidelined with a concussion late in the second half. Now it’s Gronk’s turn. He had 147 and 168 yards in Weeks 14 and 15, respectively, and scored touchdowns in Weeks 13 and 16. A combination of the two is well within reach this weekend.
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Atlanta Falcons ($5,800 DK, $7,200 FD)
In two games that mattered with Foles under center, Ertz had 17.6 and 17.1 DK points, catching 15 of 23 targets over the two games. The Falcons are nothing special against tight ends, so expect similar volume for Ertz as Foles’ safety valve.
Discount Darling: Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints ($4,700 DK, $5,900 FD)
Rudolph’s production nosedived after he injured his ankle in Week 14, but he is considered healthy now and before the injury he was routinely finding the end zone, scoring five touchdowns between Weeks 12-15. Greg Olsen had a huge game against the Saints last week, so Rudolph has a chance to be the top value play at the position.
Avoid: Austin Hooper, Falcons at Eagles ($3,200 DK, $4,900 FD)
Hooper is not a factor in this offense. His five targets last week were his most in a game since Week 12. He’s had three catches in each of his past three games but no touchdowns. His price crept up $300 this week, making him even less attractive as a discount option.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars ($3,800 DK, $5,300 FD)
Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints ($2,900 DK, $4,600 FD)
Discount Darling: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Atlanta Falcons ($2,600 DK, $4,600 FD)