If you want to be struck by lightning, go out in a thunderstorm and hold up a golf club.
Don’t actually do that. The lightning we fantasy sports junkies want to be struck by is led by a $ and ends in a couple zeroes. The only way to win is to play. So, I have a couple lineups in what will likely be Draft Kings’ final NFL contest of the season. I wasn’t sure if I was going to play let alone recommend you play.
But if you want to win in fantasy, you have to play in fantasy, so go, fill out a lineup at Draft Kings. I wouldn’t recommend investing too much because there’s going to be a whole lot of variance in play. But if you’re going to throw $2 at the Powerball or into a 50/50 drawing at a sporting/social event, you’d be foolish to not throw $2 at this because you can positively affect some of the variables at play in fantasy football.
Like last week, this is a two-game slate. The BIG problem is that one of the games is the Pro Bowl, the NFL’s much-maligned all-star game. A bunch of one-name superstars are playing in this thing — Brees, Luck, Romo, DeMarco, OBJ, T.Y., Jordy.
We don’t know how much any of them will play. That makes the Super Bowl players the safer plays this week. However, individuals put up big performances in the Pro Bowl just about every year. I’m guessing a player or two from the Pro Bowl is probably going to win somebody a lot of money.
Pro Bowl plays
In my lineups, I’ll target explosive Pro Bowl players and avoid volume players. If a running back needs 25-30 carries to have a good regular season game, he has a low probability of helping us here.
Explosive players have 3-TD potential. They are a touchdown waiting to happen on every play. A player like Alfred Morris is likely only going to get into the end zone if he ends up in the right situation — a goal line carry. Players like Jamaal Charles and Odell Beckham Jr. can score in any situation, it seems.
Charles finished the season below his high standard largely thanks to ankle and hamstring injuries. He barely managed to reach 1,000 yards. But he’s had a few weeks of rest. He can break a long score on either a run or a pass, so he makes the cut.
A lot of quarterbacks are probably envious of Eli Manning and his elite pass-catcher, and they’ll want to see what the rookie Beckham can do. I could see this becoming an OBJ highlight reel even if he only makes four catches.
There are a pile of elite receivers in this game, including Antonio Brown, A.J. Green and Randall Cobb who I didn’t mention above, but would probably be recognized as one-name superstars.
I’m not going to try to do projections for the Pro Bowl. That’s foolish. I also am pretty sure you have your own opinions which explosive players you’d like to roster.
So, then it comes down to which Super Bowl players to start or replace. That’s a more difficult question.
Super Bowl vs. Pro Bowl
The Seahawks defense is dominating, but give Bill Belichick two weeks to prepare for any offense or defense and I’m confident he’ll find something to exploit. The one marginal deficiency for the Seahawks this season was against tight ends, a position they were middle-of-the-road against.
Unfortunately for them, the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski is the best tight end in the game right now. He feels like a must-own, unless you are building multiple lineups. Then it’s good to diversify at least a couple lineups. The Pro Bowlers have Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen and Martellus Bennett, but Luke Willson has been coming on. The Patriots rank 29th in DVOA against tight ends this season and gave up the 10th-most PPR points per game (13.0) to the position in the final five weeks of the season.
The give-Belichick-two-weeks theory also stands for Willson’s quarterback, Russell Wilson and that option offense featuring Marshawn Lynch. At the end of the comeback win over the Packers in the NFC Championship game, the Seahawks offense was at its best. Wilson and Lynch execute option plays to set up more option runs, which leaves the eventual pass wide open.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Patriots scheme against the Seahawks — and to see if it works.
Most of my rosters will have Russell Wilson at quarterback and Lynch at running back.
Julian Edelman, quick and sub-6-feet tall, is the kind of receiver that has given the Seahawks trouble. Last week, I recommended starting another sub-6-footer, Cobb, against the Seahawks. He caught 7-of-10 targets for 67 yards and a touchdown despite spending the previous day in the hospital. So, let’s add Edelman to the list of potential must-owns.
The Patriots are favored by the major sports books, with the odds ranging from -1 to -2 and the over-under ranges from 47.5-48.5. The averages put the score around 25.5-22.5. I hope the game ends up that close.
Those scores suggest there will be about three touchdowns per team.
LeGarrette Blount isn’t a strong play against the Seahawks stout run defense, but he is in play because he could rush 12 times for 20 yards and somehow end up with all 3 Patriots TDs. That’s just what Blount does when he’s playing for the Patriots in the postseason.
I feel like the Patriots defense is the best play at that position, made stronger by Russell Wilson’s struggles in the NFC championship. However, it is worth noting that both are Pro Bowl defenses are minimum priced at $1,000 and that there were six interceptions and nine sacks in last year’s Pro Bowl, the lowest scoring NFL all-star game (22-21) since 2006, according to Wikipedia.
One last really important thing to note before setting your lineups: Those defenses aren’t the only $1,000 options on the board this week. If you have a gut feeling one of those players at the bottom of the lists will get two catches for 30 yards, they pay off their salary and open up a heaping pile of money to spend elsewhere.
I’m not going all the way to the basement, but RB Robert Turbin, TE Tim Wright and WR Kevin Norwood, all at $1,700, could provide an enormous value. It’s a high-risk play, but if any of them get into the end zone it’s going to greatly increase your chances of being struck by lightning.
Best of luck this week. Win cash and come back here and tell us about it.
Yeah, NBA promises again
I keep promising NBA content. I’ve been playing every day and after two of my days this week I’m finally feeling confident in my methods and opinions. I expect to have to work early three days this week, but the content should start flowing.
I won’t be able to do full projections, but I have devised a Las Vegas factor formula for the NBA which has pointed me in the direction of a couple high-scoring overtime contests. I’m excited to share it with you.