This week we discuss the following:
The weather was a huge problem last week. Are there any "gotchas" for the Divisional Round?
Mark Wimer: Well two days ago Denver was forecast to have cloudy skies and temps in the 40's—now the forecast is for clear skies and temps near freezing at kickoff. If this trend continues, by the weekend we could be looking at sub-freezing temps at kickoff and arctic cold after the sun goes down. Denver is the venue to watch this week, IMO, before setting lineups.
Andrew Garda: I don't know that it was a huge problem. Sure it impacted Seattle-Minnesota, but that's about it and one could argue that Seattle's atrocious offensive line and the Vikings' up and coming defense made a big difference as well. In Cincinnati, AJ McCarron was a bigger factor than the weather and had Roethlisberger not torn a shoulder up, he probably would have topped 300 yards.
The only game I might be worried about is Foxboro in the rain, but generally I don't see it being a huge issue.
Alex Miglio: It's going to be a little chilly in Carolina this week with temperatures in the low 40s with a wind chill in the 30s. That's going to feel downright balmy for the Seahawks after last week's tundra bowl, but it might be cold enough to dampen scoring a bit. The over/under for that game is hovering around 43, which makes sense considering the two defenses going.
Chad Parsons: I don't see any 'Ice Bowl' like situations and the divisional weekend general features the better quarterbacks. I would not fade any players due to the weather alone, more the matchups, Vegas projections, and general outlook.
Do Peyton Manning or Ben Roethlisberger have enough upside potential this week to make decent contrarian plays to take a shot with in GPPs? (If not, does that mean you avoid Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Martavis Bryant, and Markus Wheaton?)
Mark Wimer: I am avoiding both teams like the plague—weather conditions, injured (Roethlisberger) or dead (Manning) arms for both, no Antonio Brown for Roethlisberger—no thanks! This looks like another 9-10 or 10-12 type game to me.
Carson Palmer plays in a dome and has a live arm, and the Packers' pass defense isn't stifling. Over the course of regular season, Green Bay averaged 227.6 net passing yards allowed per game (sixth in the NFL) with 20 passing scores balanced by 16 interceptions (ninth in the NFL) and 43 sacks generated (tied for seventh-most). They are solid, but not a shut-down unit—witness Kirk Cousins' numbers last week—29 of 46 yielding 270 net yards passing, one TD and zero interceptions thrown last week.
Andrew Garda: Nope. Not only does Roethlisberger have a torn up shoulder, but he's minus Antonio Brown. And I don't feel like I have a clue about Manning so I am avoiding him like the plague until I see he isn't the hot mess he was early in the season.
I wouldn't avoid Bryant, Wheaton or Sanders though. I might take a chance on Thomas, but he's had such a bad case of the yips that's the reason I would avoid him, not Manning. I'd go with Sanders first as he has been more reliable and then Bryant and Wheaton. Both will get a lots of targets but are in tough coverage situations. Again, if I duck out on them it's not as much about Roethlisberger as it is about something else, in this case Chris Harris Jr and Aqib Talib.
Alex Miglio: I really liked Peyton Manning this week until news of Antonio Brown's inactivity broke. How does that affect Manning, you ask? Because the Broncos could be running the ball 40 times with a big lead, that's how.
Still, that defense presents a pretty good matchup, so a Broncos super stack is in order for at least one GPP lineup. Manning could wind up passing for four touchdowns before they deem the lead safe enough.
Chad Parsons: Peyton Manning made my exposure list, but as a GPP change-up more than cash game preference. Manning's matchup is better than Roethlisberger on the opposite side of the same game. I am fading Ben Roethlisberger without Antonio Brown and not opposed to having a lineup or two with Manning and a receiver or two of his in tournament rotation.
Mark Wimer: Given that news about Ware is that he has a high-ankle sprain, I'm on West (but not enthusiastically so).
The Pittsburgh rush defense is substantially better than San Diego's, closing out regular season tied for fifth in the NFL averaging 91.2 rushing yards allowed per game, with only six rushing scores given up over 16 games. They limited Cincinnati to 24/91/1 rushing during the Wild Card round, right on their usual pace. Over the final four weeks of regular season, Pittsburgh averaged 14.8 fantasy points allowed per game, ninth-least in the NFL during that time frame. I'm not seeing a huge day for Anderson or Hillman, but I guess Hillman has a better chance as he is the best short-range, dump-off receiver option for noodle-armed Peyton Manning.
Andrew Garda: I feel better about West and Ware than Anderson and Hillman. The Denver backfield has been unreliable, even though it has also been a focal point for the offense for parts of the season. With a banged up Maclin, and facing a defense which is easier to run on than pass, I like West and Ware to get plenty of carries and success.
Alex Miglio: Flip a coin between those first two. Anderson has looked every bit as good as we all hoped when he was a preseason first-round pick, but Hillman is getting plenty of opportunities. I will roll with Anderson given he will probably have the goal line work, but a double-digit game from both is not out of the question.
Chad Parsons: I have firmly been on the C.J. Anderson side of this argument all along. I view Anderson as the more complete option with the higher floor independent of game script. The Chiefs platoon is murkier to project. Give me West in a game script which could turn more pass-oriented against New England.
Are you going with the Broncos defense across the board this week, or will you vary things in the defensive slot? (Does the answer differ for cash games and GPPs?)
Mark Wimer: Arizona crushed the Packers not too long ago, and they had a bye to get healthy. I may play Arizona as much as Denver this weekend at defense.
Andrew Garda: With Antonio Brown out, I am playing Denver heavily everywhere. It's already a good defense, and now it faces a team that is missing starters. Yes, start them in cash, GPP—start them early and often.
Alex Miglio: It's going to be tough to roll away from the Broncos this week. Then again, the Seahawks were the chalk last week.
I will probably put in a few lineups with the Chiefs defense despite the matchup. They are playing at a high level, and the Patriots are hurting on offense. We could see another double-digit fantasy score from Kansas City with a relatively low ownership percentage.
Chad Parsons: Going 'all-in' at defense, or any position, is a slippery slope. We can create storylines which seem concrete during the week with a defined outcome. Rarely do I approach even 50% exposure for a defense and Denver settles in the 35-40% range for this week.
That will do it for this edition of the FanDuel Roundtable. Please join us again next week.
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