This week we discuss the following:
The slates have been far smaller during the playoffs, and now we are down to two games. What's your approach during such short slates?
Maurile Tremblay: I don't really change my approach except that I reduce the number of lineups that I submit (and the amount that I wager) by quite a bit. I'm still going for the chalk in cash games, and I'm still deviating from the chalk in principled ways in GPPs—but there are only so many deviations available before you exhaust what's reasonable. Hence the smaller number of lineups.
Alex Miglio: I'm playing even fewer cash contests, but that is a function of what Maurile mentioned. With limited chalk, it's hard to find too many cash lineups worthwhile entering. In GPPs, however, I'm taking a few shots with (hopefully) low-owned players in an attempt to differentiate. I think it'll be tough for the masses to deviate from the chalk in all formats, so hitting on a guy like Keshawn Martin or Devin Funchess could mean all the difference in your lineups this week.
Jene Bramel: I scale way back in shorter slates, limiting cash games and concentrating on GPP entries. I'll enter two types of lineups. One set will include a near full roster of chalk plays with one (maybe two) high reward play with a low projected ownership (e.g., Jermaine Kearse last week). The other set will be highly contrarian, with solid players who go against expected game script.
Chad Parsons: I agree with Maurile about reducing the total money in play with smaller slates. The field gets packed more tightly together with fewer options and I am risk-averse to give back season-long gains at the end by continuing to play the same volume in the playoffs weekly.
Andrew Garda: I end up paying up for the better players at the positions with less variety. To me, you have to pay up for quarterback and to an extent running back, while you have a little (not much) variety to choose from at wide receiver.
That said, like everyone else, I'm laying out less money and entering fewer contests overall.
Denver's defense has been touted as the best in the league this season, but that unit has given up a lot of points in recent weeks. Both teams were banged up last time they met, but do you think New England will have trouble scoring this week?
Maurile Tremblay: The Patriots should be the second-highest-scoring team after Carolina. Denver's defense is strong, but so is New England's offense.
Alex Miglio: Nope. New England got Julian Edelman back and Rob Gronkowski looks great. As long as that offensive line holds up, I expect the Patriots to reprise those 24 points this week, if not more.
Jene Bramel: I don't expect the Patriots to have difficulty scoring but I think Denver's ideal game plan will be to limit possessions and keep the game close and low scoring. If successful, New England may struggle to put up more than 20-24 points. I like the NFC game to be higher scoring.
Chad Parsons: More than Denver's defense, the key is New England's return to relative full-strength on offense. Brady with Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and company is a tough task and I expect the Patriots to score as usual. If anything, Denver will be playing catch-up.
Andrew Garda: As everyone has said, I don't expect too much trouble scoring on the part of the Patriots. Edelman and Gronkowski make it really hard to shut it down. If the Broncos can limit the Patriots to running the ball, then we'd be talking, but even though this is a good defense, that just doesn't seem likely.
If you had to pick one team to super stack, which team would it be and why?
Maurile Tremblay: The Panthers because they're expected to score the most points. Cam Newton has huge potential in his own right, and Ted Ginn Jr and Greg Olsen both make excellent stack opportunities. Devin Funchess is also a possibility (as a substitute for Ginn or Olsen), and—whether or not you consider it part of a stack—I wouldn't hesitate to throw Johnathan Stewart in there as well.
Alex Miglio: Vegas has the Panthers as this week's top scorer, but the individual matchups scare me here. Newton is probably the safest quarterback, but Bruce Arians specifically talked about stopping Greg Olsen this week. With Patrick Peterson likely shadowing Ted Ginn Jr and Jonathan Stewart banged up, the stack from this game might come in the form of Newton, Funchess and Graham Gano.
On the other side, however, I really like Carson Palmer and Co. I don't expect Josh Norman to clamp down on any particular receiver, and David Johnson has established himself as a great all-around back.
Jene Bramel: Arizona is probably the chalk selection here. Their pass offense is attractive regardless of game script and is deep with talent. I'm not as high on Edelman/Amendola/Gronkowski this week as last. I'll also be considering a Newton-Stewart-Ginn-Olsen stack with Ginn as a lower owned contrarian play.
I'd like Carolina if there was more there, though a Newton-Stewart-Olsen stack isn't bad.
Maurile Tremblay: Stewart and Johnson are the guys you want in cash games. One of the Denver backs (Anderson or Hillman) or any of the Patriots backs (White, Bolden, or Jackson) could break out and be good GPP plays, but I wouldn't vary from Stewart or Johnson in cash games.
Alex Miglio: Yes, they're the chalk, but I have pivoted off Johnson in a lineup or two in order to free up money elsewhere. My favorite replacement for him—at least as cash games are concerned—is C.J. Anderson, who is $1,700 less and might be just as chalky if fans remember his last outing against the Patriots. If Stewart is gimpy heading into the weekend, though, I will probably re-do the math here.
Jene Bramel: I don't think you can pivot from these two in a cash contest. Diversify at the other positions. I'd be more likely to move off one or both in a contrarian GPP lineup, but would still find it hard to roster Hillman or White instead. Neither have anywhere near the upside of Stewart or Johnson.
Chad Parsons: I would mix in some C.J. Anderson, but yes, Stewart and Johnson are my clear top options for exposure this week.
Andrew Garda: Nope, those are the guys I feel best about and they are the only two slated to get a full load of carries. I do agree that you can be a little more daring in GPP—in that case I like C.J. Anderson—but for the most part Stewart-Johnson are your plays.
That will do it for this season's FanDuel Roundtable. Thanks for following along.
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