David Montgomery may just carry your team to first place after Week 15.

© Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

For most fantasy football leagues, Week 15 marks the second round of fantasy playoffs.

As you may have learned from last week, playoffs require a slightly different strategy. Now is not the time to gamble on a player that could develop—you need to pick the perfect players to overperform in Week 15, depending on their matchups, injury reports, and various other factors.

A win this week could lead to third, second or even a first place cash prize—or it could mean your frenemy claims your $100 entry fee and your dignity. If you want to cash in next week, here are some drops, pops and shops to make in the second round of fantasy playoffs.


Drop

Antonio Brown

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (81) runs the ball against the defense of Kansas City Chiefs free safety Juan Thornhill (22) during the second half at Raymond James Stadium.© Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

When Antonio Brown became a fantasy factor in Week 9, fantasy managers who stashed him early thought their golden egg would hatch soon enough. While there's still a chance to cash in on this investment in Week 15 against the Falcons, the fact is that Brown has been closer to gooseggs than golden ones. In his five weeks of play, he's gotten 25 total receptions, but he hasn't been the number one overall pick he once was in 2017. He might be one of Brady's favorite targets, but so are Mike Evans, Gronk and apparently Scotty Miller.

Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) signs to Ohio State fans after the fourth quarter of the NFL Week 14 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Dallas Cowboys at Paul Brown Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020.© Sam Greene via Imagn Content Services, LLC

In Week 8, I suggested dropping Ezekiel Elliott, which would have been a fantasy faux pas in any year before 2020. If you kept Elliott, you enjoyed his 18-point game against the Vikings, but every other start has been a disappointment for the former fantasy first-rounder. Recovering from a calf injury, Elliott split carries with Tony Pollard this week and converted 12 carries into a measly 48 yards. Hurt as he heads into a matchup against the fourth best NFL run defense, things look sour for Elliott in Week 15. Consider starting someone else if possible, like David Montgomery, D'Andre Swift, or Melvin Gordon.

Pop

David Montgomery

Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery (32) during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field.© Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

A skyrocketing fantasy star since the bye, David Montgomery is everything you wanted this Bears running back to be. In the last three games, Montgomery has notched nearly 400 yards and four touchdowns, and the trend will likely continue against the Vikings this week. Montgomery is in set-it-and-forget-it territory for the rest of playoffs, so keep him locked in your lineup as long as you last.

D'Andre Swift

Detroit Lions running back D'Andre Swift (L) celebrates with wide receiver Mohamed Sanu (R) after scoring a rushing touchdown during the second quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field.© Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

After a three-week absence, D'Andre Swift is back, and he's here to lead the Lions running back committee without question. Unlike other NFL RB committees (hello San Francisco), the Lions have their committee order in check, meaning Swift is a sure thing when he's healthy. Although he only managed seven carries for 24 yards, a touchdown saved Swift fantasy owners last week, redeeming his value as a playoff-level player. Facing a weak Titans run defense this week, Swift could get even more work if Stafford is injured in Week 15.

Emmanuel Sanders

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (17) prior to kickoff against the Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.© Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Brees, or not Drew Brees—that is the question in Week 15.

Whether Drew breezes back for a surefire shootout against the Chiefs or not, it looks like veteran Emmanuel Sanders will get work no matter what. Disappointingly spotty all season, Sanders has produced decent numbers as a flex option, but Week 15 provides a great matchup for someone Taysom Hill has been targeting as well. Although a touchdown saved him last week, Sanders stands to get some catches this week—after all, he's gotten at least three in the past four games.

Shop

Chad Hansen

Houston Texans wide receiver Chad Hansen (17) makes a catch against the Chicago Bears during the fourth quarter at Soldier Field.© Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Another benefactor of a decimated roster, Chad Hansen has swooped in to catch Deshaun Watson's bombs just in time for playoffs. Promoted from the practice squad in Week 13, Hansen has scored 12 catches for 157 yards over the past two weeks. While he's been relegated back to the practice squad as of Monday, it's likely that he could return in Week 15. Upgraded or not, he's worth stashing for the next two weeks just in case. If you're not confident in Hansen, Keke Coutee is the only other Houston receiving option unless Brandin Cooks returns.

Russell Gage

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage (83) is unable to catch a pass against Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Trayvon Mullen (27) during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.© Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Julio is out, Calvin and Russell are in.

While Calvin Ridley is a definite play as the seventh overall fantasy receiver, fellow Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage is available in 85 percent of ESPN leagues. Gage's week went particularly well because he threw a 39-yard touchdown to Calvin Ridley, but he still has a prime matchup against a Tampa Bay defense that's given up the ninth most yards all season. Although the Buccaneers have talented safeties, Gage's position as WR2 positions him to get solid volume in Week 15.

Tim Patrick

Denver Broncos wide receicver Tim Patrick (81) on the sidelines in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium.© Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy is always a gamble, but there are still sure bets on waivers that deliver on their promise. That was Tim Patrick this season: I suggested picking him up in Week 7, and here he is in the playoffs, averagng 10.2 points per game at the 35th overall receiver. Miraculously, Patrick is still available in 77 percent of ESPN leagues, which is surprising for Denver's most consistent red zone target. Sure, they actually played an NFL game without a quarterback, but Patrick and Melvin Gordon might be the most stable aspects of this shaky offense. Ignore the noise and pick up Patrick if he's still available in your league for Week 15.

Rashard Higgins


Cleveland Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins (82) and Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku (85) celebrate after a touchdown during the first half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium.© Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

We've all been waiting for Rashard Higgins to live up to his fantasy potential: I've been waiting since Week 8, and Yahoo Sports' Matt Harmon has been waiting for forever, apparently.

Higgins may have finally arrived in time for playoffs this year: he's gotten six catches and a touchdown in each of his past two games. On a playoff-bound Browns team, Higgins is likely to get some work against the New York Giants in Week 15.

Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After three consecutive victories, the Golden State Warriors conceded Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals to the Dallas Mavericks. In Game 5, the Warriors will look to close out Luka Doncic and the Mavs in front of the home crowd. As a team, the Warriors were efficient from the field, converting 48.8% of their shots taken. One of the main reasons Golden State lost was a result of poor free-throw shooting. The Warriors missed nine of their 27 free throws on Tuesday night (65.4 FT%). In comparison, the Mavericks were full-throttle in Game 4 facing elimination. Dallas’ Reggie Bullock (18 PTS) and Dorian Finney Smith (23 PTS) combined for 42 points, adding to Luka’s 30.

Ultimately, no team has ever come back from a 3-0 lead in the playoffs, meaning that the Warriors will almost certainly be heading back to the NBA Finals. Let’s take a look at what the best bets are for tonight’s Game 5.

Please note that all odds and lines are from FanDuel Sportsbook and were accurate at 2:00 PM EST. Be sure to check for line movement or odd changes.

Best Bets of the Night

Game: Dallas Mavericks at Golden State Warriors -6.5 (GSW Leads 3-1)

Bet #1: Dallas Mavericks, +6.5 (-110)

We like Dallas to keep it close. Perhaps Dallas has a 10-point lead going into the third quarter which the Warriors could then overtake in the second half. Regardless of the scenario, the Mavericks won against a Warriors team that still put up 109 points in Game 4 on close to 50% shooting from the field. Dallas shot above 50% from the field in Game 4 and took many shots to get there just like they did in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semis against the Phoenix Suns. Even Jalen Brunson said in the post-game interview with the guys from Inside the NBA that his team needs to "take it one game at a time (...) like four Game 7s."

While the Warriors are in it to win it tonight, the Mavericks seem to perform best when facing elimination this 2022 postseason. While they might lose tonight, the Mavericks seem to play well under pressure. As a result, take them +7 tonight as the Warriors will have a bigger challenge on their hands than they anticipate.

Bet #2: Over 215.5 Total Points (-110)

In two of the series’ four games, both teams combined for at least 220 points. In Game 2, 243 points were scored while in Game 4, there were 228 points tallied. The Mavericks shoot more when facing elimination. This has been a trend we have seen throughout the postseason. In Game 7 of the Western Conference Semis, the Mavericks scored 123 points while in Game 4 against the Warriors on Tuesday, Dallas scored 119 points. Not much more needs to be said about the Warriors’ high-power offense that will likely outscore Dallas regardless of how many points they get on the board.

NBA Player Props of the Night

Game: Dallas Mavericks at Golden State Warriors -6.5 (GSW Leads 3-1)

Prop #1: Dorian Finney-Smith Over 11.5 Points

Dorian Finney-Smith erupted for 23 points in Game 4 to help the Mavericks rally past the Warriors. Throughout the 2022 playoffs, he’s averaged 11.6 PPG shooting 46.5% from the field. He’s also seeing 38.2 minutes per contest this postseason. Expect Finney-Smith to score at least 12 points tonight after his 23-points in Game 4.

Prop #2: Klay Thompson Over 18.5 Points

Klay Thompson was held to 12 points scored in Game 4. Despite going 5-of-10 from the field, Klay was limited by Dallas on defense in 28 minutes on the floor on Tuesday night. He should definitely be taking more shots tonight and perform better overall being back home for a Game 5. Thompson should easily hit at least 20+ points tonight, and take a handful more shots from the field in this contest than in Tuesday’s.

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Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

Tom Pennington, Getty Images

In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Bam Adebayo's 31-point and 10-rebound double-double led the Miami Heat to a 109-103 victory over the Celtics on the road. That was followed by a dominant second-half performance by Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins who led the Warriors to a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals.

Tonight, we'll get the first of these two matchups. Boston will look to come back in their second home game against a Heat team that is clearly not at 100% healthy. Tyler Herro has been ruled out for Game 4 while Kyle Lowry remains questionable. Here are some of the best bets for tonight's and tomorrow's big Game 4s.

Please note that all odds and lines are from FanDuel Sportsbook and were accurate at 3:30 PM EST. Be sure to check for line movement or odd changes.

ECF Game 4: Miami Heat at Boston Celtics -7 (MIA Leads 2-1)

In Game 4, the Celtics rallied back from double-digits to make things interesting in the fourth quarter. However, Boston conceded Game 3 to the Miami Heat 109-103. On Sunday, Bam Adebayo was getting everything he wanted down low. He finished with 31 points, 10 boards, six assists, four steals, and one block. Ime Udoka will need to boost the presence of his big men down low, perhaps by extending Daniel Theis’ minutes or having him share the floor more with Al Horford. The major reason for which the Heat are considered the seven-point underdogs for tonight’s game is injuries. Tyler Herro has already been ruled out for Game 4, and the Heat have four or five other players in their lineup currently listed as questionable. This includes Max Struss, Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, and P.J. Tucker. Butler is dealing with knee inflammation which sidelined him for the second half of Game 3.

Even if all of the players in the Heat’s rotation are good to go tonight (outside of Herro), Boston has not lost back-to-back home games since late October. Plus, Jaylen Brown is shooting much better than he did earlier in the postseason. In fact, he’s elevated his shooting to 50% from the field through the 2021-22 playoffs through 14 games played. Expect Boston to bounce back big in Game 4, with multiple players on the Miami Heat not at full strength.

The Pick: Boston Celtics -7 (-110)

WCF Game 4: Golden State Warriors at Dallas Mavericks -1 (GSW Leads 3-0)

Well, it’s looking like the Golden State Warriors are returning to the NBA Finals. With the emergence of Jordan Poole late this season and into the postseason, Andrew Wiggins’ First-Team All-Star season, and Klay Thompson’s return to basketball, Golden State has been simply phenomenal. Golden State is simply that good this year, with anyone on the team capable of stepping up. Stephen Curry erupted in Game 3, while it was Andrew Wiggins that caught fire in the second half of Game 4. Any given night, the Warriors have one or two guys who they can count on for scoring approximately 25+ points. Considering the Mavericks' struggles this round, particularly behind the three-point line, bettors should go with the Warriors as the slight underdog. Teams get swept sometimes. Just ask the Brooklyn Nets. The Warriors will bring out the brooms and sweep the Mavericks as they punch their ticket to the NBA Finals Tuesday night.

The Pick: Golden State Warriors ML -104

NBA Player Props

Golden State Warriors at Dallas Mavericks -1 (GSW Leads 3-0)

Prop #1: Stephen Curry, Over 27.5 Points

Stephen Curry has scored 31 points and 32 points over the last two games. He’s done so by converting at least 50% from the field in each contest. It makes sense that he would score at least 28 points in a series-clinching victory tomorrow night. Curry is averaging 27.1 PPG on 45.9% this postseason but has certainly put up more points and done so more efficiently over the last few games.

Prop #2: Luka Doncic, Over 3.5 Threes

Luka has drained nine three-pointers over the last two games. He’s knocked down at least four threes in three of his last four contests. Facing elimination and hoping to not let down the home crowd in back-to-back home playoff games, Doncic will convert at least four baskets from downtown in Game 4.

Tyler Herro (Left), Bam Adebayo (Right), Miami Heat

Getty Images

Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, and the Miami Heat held their own against the Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Likewise, Andrew Wiggins and Stephen Curry led the Warriors to a 112-87 blowout over Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. Tonight, the Celtics play their second game on the road against the Heat. On Friday night, the Mavericks will look to bounce back after shooting horrifically in Game 1.

Let’s take a look at the best bets for the two NBA Conference Final Game 2 matchups set for 8:30 PM EST. tonight and 9:00 PM EST. tomorrow night.

Please note that all odds and lines are from FanDuel Sportsbook and were accurate at 4:30 PM EST. Be sure to check for line movement or odd changes.

Best Bets of the Night

Game: Boston Celtics at Miami Heat -2 (MIA Leads 1-0)

After a nail-biting series with the Milwaukee Bucks that the Celtics won in grandiose fashion, Boston conceded Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat. Tonight, they play Game 2 of the series at the FTX Arena and hope to bounce back from Tuesday’s 11-point loss. One of the principal reasons for their defeat in Game 1 was the absence of Marcus Smart (foot sprain) and Al Horford (health & safety protocols). It remained a relatively close game until the third quarter in which the Celtics were outscored 14-3 to begin the second half. Derrick White filled in for Marcus Smart and was terribly inefficient from the field. He scored three points (1-4 FG) and had four assists in 29 minutes filling in for the Defensive Player of the Year. In contrast, Max Struss and Gabe Vincent did a terrific job of filling in for Kyle Lowry, combining for 28 points on 9-of-19 shooting. In addition, Tyler Herro had a good night with a pivotal 18 points (7-15 FG) off the bench. Fortunately for the Celtics, both Smart and Horford are expected to return tonight.

Head Coach Ime Udoka indicated to reporters today that Smart was probable to play this evening. Horford was cleared of health and safety protocols today making him available for tonight’s contest. For those of you who have watched the Celtics this postseason, Horford and Smart have upped their play and have been absolutely integral to the team’s success. Tonight, let’s take the Boston Celtics to take a game on the road in the same fashion that they took two road games from the Bucks in the last series.

The Pick: Boston Celtics ML +108

Tonight's Best NBA Player Props

Game: Boston Celtics at Miami Heat -2 (MIA Leads 1-0)

Prop#1: Gabe Vincent Over 9.5 Points
In Game 1 without Kyle Lowry, Gabe Vincent scored 17 points in 34 minutes on 50% shooting from the field. As Kyle Lowry is out again for Game 2 tonight, expect Vincent to score at least 10 points. Vincent has performed admirably while filling in for the veteran. Even when Lowry returns, it's quite possible that Erik Spoelstra will give some of Lowry's minutes to Vincent.
Prop#2: Al Horford Over 9.5 Points
After five straight double-digit scoring performances, Al Horford scored eight points or fewer in the last three games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Bucks. He missed Game 1 of the Celtics' series against the Miami Heat after entering Health & Safety protocols. Since he was only out for one game, he shouldn't face any minute restrictions tonight. Horford should score at least 10 points in 30+ minutes on the floor.

Tomorrow Night's Best NBA Bet

Game: Dallas Mavericks at Golden State -6 (GSW Leads 1-0)

Dallas was annihilated by Golden State in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. This comes after the Mavs blew out the Phoenix Suns on the road in impressive fashion, punching their ticket to the next round of the playoffs for a series against the Warriors. Golden State shot an impressive 56.1% from the field in the opening game and finished with 112 points. Just as important as the offensive production, Golden State clamped down on defense. The Warriors contained Luka Doncic, who converted just six of his 18 field goals on his way to 20 points. Andrew Wiggins did an excellent job guarding the young playmaker. Luka's teammates didn't help out much either as the Mavericks shot 36% from the field in Game 1, and 22.9% from downtown (11-48 3PT FG) for just 87 points on the night.

While I think the Warriors will win again on Friday night, expect the Mavericks to keep things more interesting after such an abysmal night shooting from the field. Dallas will make the adjustments needed to make this a competitive Game 2 in the Bay area.

The Pick: Dallas Mavericks +6 (-110)

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