The Super Bowl is drawing ever closer and this week the eight franchises looking for those two coveted spots will be whittled down to four. This is one of the most interesting weeks of the season for me – the week where the best teams throughout the season are asked if they can deal with the pressure of the playoffs. The four home teams are all expected to win, although it would be something of a surprise if all four actually do. For the second week in a row we have to make our selections from just eight teams – and once again we’ll be looking for those players who offer value for money, be they expensive players or bargains.
Peyton Manning – Denver Broncos $8,400
A year ago Peyton Manning and the Broncos looked to be on an unstoppable march to Super Bowl success and it would have been inconceivable to see him as only the third most expensive quarterback of the eight starters. Although not quite performing at last year’s heights, he has still thrown 39 touchdowns this season which is just one behind league leader Andrew Luck. One of the reasons his salary is low is because he hasn’t performed greatly in recent weeks, with just 3 TD’s in his last 4 games, but there is nothing like playoff game to re-focus the attention – the week off will also help.
Tony Romo – Dallas Cowboys $7,600
Is this the Cowboys year? They ended the regular season in fine form, but with the help of a somewhat questionable decision, they made it through the wild card weekend. A trip to Green Bay isn’t one any team will relish, although question marks over the fitness of Aaron Rodgers will not be unwelcome in Dallas. Tony Romo ended the season as the top rated quarterback and continued his fine form last weekend – if he can carry it on the salary of $7,600 will look cheap.
Marshawn Lynch – Seattle Seahawks $8,000
If after week 11 with a 6-4 record you had offered the Seattle Seahawks home advantage throughout the playoffs and a divisional game against a team with a losing record they would have bitten your hand off. This is exactly where they are however and look to be the team to beat. Marshawn Lynch is one of the reasons for this – he is rushing for more yards per game (81.6) this year than last, and the second half of the season has seen him go for over 95 yards per game. The Carolina matchup is a good one for Lynch, as they are 16th against the rush – I’d be surprised if he rushes for less than 100 yards and doesn’t score.
Justin Forsett – Baltimore Ravens $5,400
Forsett has picked up 79 yards per game this season and is ranked 6th in the NFL. He didn’t have a particularly good game in the playoff win against the Steelers last week with just 36 yards, but the two times this year he has rushed for under 40 yards he has bounced back with 112 and 119 yards in the following games. The matchup is a difficult one, as the Patriots are rated 9th against the rush, however this is 3 places lower than last week’s opponents. This pick is something of a gamble, but if he does bounce back again, $5,400 could be a bargain.
Ronnie Hillman – Denver Broncos $4,700
or another running back with a cheap salary you could do worse than pick Ronnie Hillman. This Broncos running back has only averages 54 yards per game, but when playing in Denver you can up that to75.8 yards per game, so he clearly likes home comforts. The Colts in opposition are ranked 19th against the run, a matchup that can’t be much better at this critical stage of the season.
Demaryius Thomas – Denver Broncos $8,500
Having picked Manning already, I think the combination of him and Thomas could pay big dividends this week. I did consider choosing Emmanuel Sanders over Thomas as there isn’t much in it between the two, however in the last three games Thomas has been targeted 42 times in comparison to the 19 of Sanders, which made my decision easier. The Manning/Thomas combination will cost $16,900, which is hefty, but if it works it will be worth every cent.
Dez Bryant – Dallas Cowboys $8,400
My other QB/WR combination this week is slightly cheaper at $16,000. Bryant has caught more receiving touchdowns than any other play in the league, and if Romo has a good game this week, it is almost certain that Bryant will too. Having chosen two QB/WR combinations, I’d say that the first one looks the more solid option – this one is more boom or bust and one I’d be more likely to choose in a large entry daily fantasy sports contest.
Julian Edelman – New England Patriots $6,400
Edelman is a solid but not spectacular wide receiver who hit his best form of the season in the final two games, catching for 229 yards and a pair of touchdowns. This pick however is as much about the defense as they face the Ravens who are ranked 23rd against the pass – making this a great matchup. However it should be noted that Edelman is questionable right now, so keep an eye on this before making him part of your roster.
Rib Gronkowski – New England Patriots $7,100
With 12 touchdowns this year and averaging almost 75 yards per game receiving Gronkowski is an obvious choice this week – no other Tight End really matches up. As described in the Edelman pick, this is a great match up for the New England receivers. Gronkowski will be coming off 3 weeks rest (he didn’t play in the final week of the regular season) so he’ll be raring to go.
Seattle Seahawks $3,700
Last week this was my toughest pick of all. This week it’s the easiest. The Seahawks have given up 7 or less points in 5 of their last 6 games and I see no reason why this will change this week. Added to this, the sportsbooks have this game as the lowest scoring one of the weekend.
*Prices from DraftKings
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