After a week off for the holidays, the FanDuel Bargain Bin returns for a week of exciting NFL Divisional Playoff action. With just four games on the schedule the list will be shorter and slightly more expensive than usual, but lacking none of the customary effort and insight to help your team compete this weekend. Take note of the changes to the pricing levels and then enjoy my picks for the best bargains in what is sure to be a tight and thrilling slate of postseason games.
This article will highlight one undervalued player and one super cheap option to consider at each position for Week 19. The list will only include players if they fall below the following salary levels on FanDuel:
QB – 1 Player under $9,000 & 1 Player under $8,500
RB – 1 Player under $7,000 & 1 Player under $6,000
WR – 1 Player under $7,000 & 1 Player under $6,000
TE – 1 Player under $6,000 & 1 Player under $5,000
K – 1 Player under $5,600 & 1 Player under $5,200
D – 1 Player under $5,600 & 1 Player under $5,200
1. Cam Newton, CAR v. SF ($8,500) – Newton has provided multiple touchdowns in only one of his last four games, and he had one of his worst weeks of the season when he last faced the Niners in Week 10. That said, with the salary of every available quarterback at or above $8,000 this week on FanDuel, Cam is priced at a relative bargain level sitting $3,000 below Peyton Manning and $1,500 below Andrew Luck. Newton posted career highs this year in passing touchdowns and completion percentage, and despite a 10-15% reduction in his rushing attempts this season he maintained a productive 5.3 yards per carry average. While his ordinarily fantastic upside is somewhat limited facing a tremendous San Francisco defense that allows just 12.6 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, I expect him to rise to the playoff occasion and use his diverse tools to keep the Panthers and his FanDuel owners in the game.
2. Philip Rivers, SD @ DEN ($8,000) – Rivers didn’t have to do much in the Chargers playoff win last week against the Bengals with Andy Dalton basically handing them the game. He was effective in what little action was thrust upon him with 12 completions on 16 attempts for 128 yards and a touchdown with no turnovers. I’d say it’s absolutely certain Rivers will have to throw at least two or three times that much on Sunday against the Broncos. That bodes well for a player that amassed 4,478 yards with 32 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions in the regular season. Rivers threw three or more touchdowns in five games this year and he’ll need to do the same in Denver if San Diego wants to move one step closer to the Super Bowl. The Broncos defense was in the bottom ten in the league at defending the pass and allowed an average of 16.6 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. With a solid matchup and the lowest price of any starting QB this week, Rivers appears poised to be one of the best values at his position.
1. Donald Brown, IND @ NE ($6,600) – Brown has completely usurped the starting running back duties in Indianapolis from a freefalling Trent Richardson, evidenced more so than ever in last week’s playoff win when Richardson fumbled his first carry and Brown got every single Colts carry thereafter. Adding in his four catches on six targets, Brown took a total of 15 touches for 102 yards and two touchdowns. In Week 16 of the regular season Brown took 12 touches for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Both of those games came against Kansas City. The Patriots have a serviceable defense, but they aren’t the Chiefs. New England is allowing 17.5 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs and with a stranglehold on the Indianapolis carries, Brown has a good chance at putting up a top three score at his position this weekend. At the very least he should have no problem finding his way to 60 yards and a touchdown on Saturday.
2. LeGarrette Blount, NE v. IND ($5,600) – There are few hotter backs in the NFL right now than Blount who is coming off his two best games of the season. He’s taken 40 carries for 265 yards and four touchdowns in that span and is entrenched as the primary runner in New England. Shane Vereen will get his targets through the air and Stevan Ridley might garner token touches on the ground, but it’s Blount who will do the heavy lifting and be trusted near the goal line in a critical game against Indianapolis. The Colts defense was middle of the pack in surrendering 15.1 fantasy points per game to RBs in the regular season, but they gave up 4.5 yards per carry and didn’t look miraculously improved last week against Kansas City. Blount himself managed 5.0 yards per carry in the regular season and he could do major damage in Foxborough if given the opportunity. There’s little reason to expect otherwise, which makes Blount a great way to save salary cap for other positions without sabotaging expected production from a key roster spot.
1. Keenan Allen, SD @ DEN ($6,700) – Allen joined Philip Rivers in doing next to nothing in the Chargers playoff win last week with just two catches on three targets for 21 yards. He can’t be blamed for the lack of pass attempts in the lopsided game, and he’ll likely be the primary beneficiary of an opposite mandate this weekend in Denver. Allen caught five touchdowns in Weeks 14-16, which paints a pretty accurate picture of his tremendous upside, the principal role he plays in San Diego, and the chemistry he’s developed with Rivers. Take his bad game as a gift given his reduced price tag for this week’s contests on FanDuel, and enjoy one of the league’s best young receivers priced at a bargain level rarely seen this late in the season. The Broncos give up 22.4 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers and I don’t expect Eddie Royal to be the San Diego wideout collecting the majority of those points on Sunday.
2. Marques Colston, NO @ SEA ($5,600) – Colston and the entire Saints passing game has been in a bit of a funk of late, but Marques did see double digit targets in three straight games in Weeks 14-16. He also accumulated 281 yards and three touchdowns in that span, showing that he’s still one of the top options in the varied Drew Brees passing attack. New Orleans could have trouble getting back on track against a Seahawks defense that allowed only 12.8 fantasy points per game to opposing receivers and defends the pass better than any team in the NFL. That doesn’t mean Brees and the Saints will be completely grounded though, which should leave some fantasy points to be had in this game. After seeing only two targets last week, getting Colston more involved will likely be a priority for the Saints as he and Jimmy Graham are the most talented assets they have at their disposal in their attempt to overcome their biggest challenge of the year in Seattle.
1. Greg Olsen, CAR v. SF ($5,700) – Olsen led the Panthers in receiving yards in 2013, a fact that speaks for itself as to how large a role he’s carved out in Carolina with back-to-back 800+ yard seasons. He’d gone through a bit of a touchdown drought from Weeks 13-16, but he rectified that by finding the end zone against Atlanta in Week 17. Even when he wasn’t scoring, Olsen routinely saw seven or more targets in every game since Week 10. With Steve Smith looking limited at best for this week’s divisional playoff game against the Niners, Olsen may be in line for even more targets than usual and should have no trouble surpassing the 7.0 fantasy points that San Francisco allowed per game to opposing tight ends in the regular season. If you can’t quite afford one of the top three tight ends this weekend but don’t want to take a total flier, look to Olsen to be as reliable as they come under $6,000 at this point in the season.
2. Ladarius Green, SD @ DEN ($4,700) – If even Olsen is too rich for your blood this week and you want to save big at tight end, there is no option that offers more upside than Ladarius Green. The young Charger has been the understudy to the aging Antonio Gates this season and has demonstrated his ability with several impressive touchdown catches and a penchant for the big play. As with the other Chargers on this list, Green gets a bit of a pass on last week’s performance with San Diego having no need to throw, but even in those circumstances he managed to catch all three of his targets for 34 yards and a touchdown. Even those paltry numbers were enough to dwarf the one catch on one target for five yards that Gates managed, and with everything on the line in Denver the Chargers would be smart to continue to take advantage of their emerging threat. The Broncos were among the friendliest defenses to tight ends this season in giving up 8.3 fantasy points per game, a number that would make Green a fine value play this weekend.
1. Nick Novak, SD @ DEN ($5,200) – Novak did his job last week against the Bengals in making two short field goals and three extra points, but it’s his matchup in Denver this time around that earns him the top bargain honors at his position. The Broncos don’t exactly hand out fantasy points to opposing kickers, just 7.5 per game, but the thin air of Denver is about the best possible boost a kicker can get in fantasy. Long attempts are more frequent and more makeable, and that translates into results that produce FanDuel gold. Novak was 34 of 37 on field goal attempts in the regular season including 11 of 11 from 40+ yards, and he should be trusted to connect on the chances he gets on Sunday. If the Chargers can keep the game close, that could turn out to be quite a few.
2. Graham Gano, CAR v. SF ($5,000) – Gano has one of the strongest legs in the NFL, leading the league in touchback percentage and making all six of his field goal attempts from beyond 50 yards. Overall he was 24 of 27 on field goals and often played a decisive role with the Panthers being involved in so many close and low-scoring games. This weekend he faces a Niners team that allowed a cruel 5.8 fantasy points per game to opposing kickers, the lowest mark in the league. Still, priced at the position minimum with so many other kickers costing a pretty penny, Gano could be the way to go if you want to spend your salary cap on more lucrative positions.
1. New England Patriots, NE v. IND ($5,500) – Picking a fantasy defense in the playoffs can be extremely tricky as there are no bad teams left to feast on. That means expectations for all defenses must be lowered, which in turn can give great incentive to avoid the priciest options. With just eight teams playing, there’s not much competition for the Patriots among defenses priced below $6,000. Sure they’re facing a strong Indianapolis offense that can threaten through the air and on the ground, and sure the Colts are allowing just 4.9 fantasy points per game to opposing defenses, but New England is still led by Emperor Belichick and Darth Brady. The Patriots have dealt with all kinds of adversity this year and still managed to ease into the playoffs with a bye. The Colts are a good team, but they lack the experience and consistency to overcome the master plan that will be waiting for them in cold New England on Saturday.
2. New Orleans Saints, NO @ SEA ($5,000) – It’s a good thing the Saints defense has stepped it up this year as their offense while potent has not been enough to keep them afloat in 2013. They’ll need their defense to come up big again in Seattle if they want to keep their Super Bowl hopes alive. The Seahawks have not been generous to opposing defenses in allowing them an average of just 5.5 fantasy points per game, but New Orleans was fourth in the league this season in sacks at 49 and they are capable of containing the Seahawks to a reasonable score. If anything, the Saints have been a bit unlucky in the takeaway department this year with the fewest in the NFC at just 19 and zero return touchdowns. There’s no time like the present for that to change, and the first big play by the New Orleans defense this season would be a big advantage on FanDuel priced at the position minimum.