If you're reading this, congratulations—you've made it to the first round of playoffs.
Go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back, because making it through the minefield that has been the 2020 fantasy season wasn't easy. It took hours of research, a little plotting on the waiver wire, and a lot of luck with simply having the right players.
If you had McCaffrey and you made it this far, well, you're worth your salt as a fantasy football manager. You've also earned the right to be a little salty to everyone who doubted your post-season ascent.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves: You're in, but you haven't won it just yet. There are still three weeks to go, and you'll have to keep your wits about you as opponents notice your roster deficiencies and steal every available player (yes, that is a thing).
Here are some of the drops, pops and shops that'll help you clean house before Week 14.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Danny Amendola (80) makes a catch in front of Chicago Bears inside linebacker Danny Trevathan (59) during the second half at Soldier Field.Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
The fantasy player that gets overlooked all season, D/STs can make all the difference in a team's success, especially during playoffs.
While many teams tend to set and forget their defenses for the season, streaming is something to consider this week—especially if you have the Bears.
The Bears are currently the 16th-ranked D/ST because they've had fantastic games against the Giants, the Panthers, the Rams and the Vikings. Every other week was a letdown, especially the past two weeks, where they scored a cumulative -6 against divisional rivals.
While the Texans may seem to be a tantalizing option, Deshaun Watson has come into his own as of late, so it's likely that Houston's Houdini will have a high-scoring game.
Potential streaming options include the Chiefs vs. Miami, the 49ers vs. Washington, and the Cardinals vs. Giants.
Update: I am so glad I decided to keep T.Y. Hilton in over Mooney. I am so glad as well that my COO decided to ride… https://t.co/PC0JYKMM51— Justin (@Justin)1607294549.0
Cleveland Browns cornerback Terrance Mitchell (39) and Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Travis Fulgham (13) go for a pass in the end zone during the second half at FirstEnergy StadiumScott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
In Week 14, it finally happened: The Eagles are starting unproven rookie Jalen Hurts over (almost) 2018 NFL MVP Carson Wentz.
Wentz has been historically bad as a passer this season; and at this point, the entire Eagles offense remains volatile for fantasy managers. Even though Travis Fulgham hasn't scored more than five total points since Week 10, he's still owned in over half of ESPN leagues.
While Fulgham and others could benefit from a change at QB, Fulgham's production dropoff combined with Hurts's rookie status equals an unsavory gamble against a 10-2 New Orleans Saints.
So they’ll finally start Travis Fulgham without WENTZ😔 I’m gonna love/hate this game on Sunday😩… https://t.co/boCrthrH9s— Aaron Moore (@Aaron Moore)1607553618.0
Houston Texans linebacker Nate Hall (48) sacks Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) during the fourth quarter at Ford Field.Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
It's the moment we've all been waiting for: It's finally Matt Stafford SZN.
Perhaps the unluckiest guy who can seriously sling the pigskin, Matt Stafford has had the unfortunate luck of being drafted by the Detroit Lions. Like Megatron before him and Barry Sanders before him, Stafford is the last in a line of talented footballers who couldn't carry a losing franchise on their shoulders. Well, maybe not until Matt Patricia got fired.
With the Patricia Experiment finally over in Detroit, interim head coach Darrell Bevell had new plans for the Lions QB on Sunday that included 402 yards and 3 passing touchdowns against the Bears.
Scoring 19 points against the Packers in Week 2, the 12-year veteran could pick apart a Packers defense that hasn't been particularly strong. Who knows—Stafford could even build further chemistry with Quintez Cephus, a receiver you'll want to scoop up on waivers this week.
#49ers' offense would rival Chiefs' with Matthew Stafford at the helm, says @DCarr8 https://t.co/xnuKtzi8O6— 49ers Webzone (@49ers Webzone)1607552446.0
Washington Football Team running back J.D. McKissic (41) carries the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals during the second half at FedExField.Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
A deserving ROTY candidate, Antonio Gibson was set to power fantasy managers through playoffs until he was sidelined in Week 13 with what's commonly known as "turf toe."
Despite this, the Washington Team managed to be the first to bring down the undefeated Steelers in a surprise win this week. If Washington can beat the Steelers without Gibson, perhaps you can still win Gibson-less in Week 14.
If you're looking to replace him, your options are the pass-catching J.D. McKissic and the barreling Peyton Barber. McKissick is preferred after a ten reception, 70-yard game, but Barber is someone to pluck from the waiver wire. After McKissic's success against a vaunted NFL defense, consider popping him in your lineup for Week 14.
#49ers' offense would rival Chiefs' with Matthew Stafford at the helm, says @DCarr8 https://t.co/xnuKtzi8O6— 49ers Webzone (@49ers Webzone)1607552446.0
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley (11) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium.Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
In Week 5, I told fantasy managers to pick up Cole Beasley. Were you one of them?
If so, you're probably thanking your stars that the wideout is coming through just in time for playoffs. After a nine-catch, 130-yard game, Beasley is living his best life up in Buffalo, working alongside Stefon Diggs for one of the NFL's top passing games. Considering the fact that the Bills haven't been heavy on the run, count on Beasley to get a decent amount of looks and make them count. An ironclad Steelers defense will make it difficult to replicate Week 13, yet Beasley could still be the preferred option on your team this week.
DO NOT sleep on Cole Beasley this season: ▪️More yards than A.J. Brown ▪️More rec than D.K. Metcalf ▪️More yards p… https://t.co/1yuxt5Q1Bl— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS)1607526596.0
Cam Akers & Darrell Henderson Jr.
Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers (23) celebrates after rushing for a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals in the second quarter at State Farm Stadium.Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Here's an existential question for you: Which Rams RB is going to be the winner in Week 14?
While no one seems to have a clear answer, both Akers and Henderson are widely available in leagues, which means it's not a bad idea to grab who you can get before they play New England.
Akers surprised everyone with 21 carries for 72 yards, a touchdown and a 22-yard reception—he's definitely a fantasy talent, it's just difficult to know who eats in a three-RB committee. While Henderson only had three carries, he made the most of it with a 38-yard touchdown run against the Cardinals, giving him almost as many points as Akers.
In Week 13, Akers easily got the lion's share of carries, making him the back you may want to back if you're weak at RB. Considering that he's available in about 64 percent of ESPN leagues, he may be the best available bet for an emergency playoff pickup.
The #Rams have removed rookie running back Cam Akers from the team’s injury report. #FantasyFootball https://t.co/bVv7FlhHOU— Cash Flow Sports (@Cash Flow Sports)1607554666.0
T.Y. Hilton (13) of the Indianapolis Colts looks for a touchdown pass that was a little too far.Robert Scheer/IndyStar via Imagn Content Services, LLC
Owning T.Y. Hilton is kind of like owning Christian McCaffrey: He's been a fantasy non-starter all season, but he's finally back and ready to play just in time for playoffs.
While McCaffrey was sidelined by injury, Hilton has just been bad. In fact, he's been so bad this season that his grandma told him that the person she saw on television "wasn't her grand baby." That was in Week 2.
It took Hilton ten more weeks to score over 80 yards and a touchdown in two consecutive games, but it looks like the former star is shining again on the Colts offense. He's still available in 53 percent of ESPN leagues, so snag him before they take on the Las Vegas Raiders this week.
Make sure to tune into another great NFL Film Room with Lawrence Owen (@Colts_Law) as this week he looks at the eve… https://t.co/2vIEBIxgCm— SportsCastr (@SportsCastr)1607554449.0
Detroit Lions receiver Quintez Cephus tries to make a catch against Chicago Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller during the second half at Ford Field.Junfu Han via Imagn Content Services, LLC
Another benefactor of a surging Lions offense, Quintez Cephus is probably a name you hadn't heard until he snuck a 49-yard touchdown past an All-Pro cornerback this weekend.
There's not much else to say about this rookie receiver, who hasn't gotten more than four targets per game aside from the season opener against Chicago. Playing against a 15th-ranked defense from Wisconsin, the Lions are expected to pass to keep up with Aaron Rodgers.
If Matthew is cooking, Quintez could be a part of that new offensive recipe, especially if Kenny Golladay is still slated to miss time in Week 14.
#WednesdayWrapup: Quintez Cephus In Sunday’s win over the Bears, @QoDeep_87 saw action on offense where he had two… https://t.co/5zAnvksppS— NFL Badgers (@NFL Badgers)1607526306.0
ADDITIONAL WARNING: If you're anything like me, you're probably tempted by the enigmatic potential that is Cordarelle Patterson, but let's be honest: You know why he's still on waivers. Best to leave him there unless you're willing to bet he can make his infamous kick return.
SoFi Stadium is reflected in the visor of Chicago Bears wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson during pregame warmups before playing the Los Angeles Rams.Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
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It's another eventful week in the NFL.
Four teams -- the Jets, Falcons, Saints, and 49ers -- are the first teams to get a bye week. After Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers narrowly escaped Thursday Night Football with a 28-22 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, the reigning Super Bowl champs are the first team with five wins in the league. Who will join them on Sunday? We know that we'll get at least a second five-win team since the 4-1 Ravens are hosting the 4-1 Chargers. That is going to be an epic battle, so let's start with that clash of AFC contenders. Welcome to our Week 6 NFL Best Bets.
Playing on the road is a difficult task for any team, but if any team can escape with a victory, it's Justin Herbert and the Chargers. This isn't the Chargers of the last decade. This team is winning the close battles. Herbert is playing at an MVP level this season and already has led this team to big-time wins over the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns -- two of the top teams in the AFC. This L.A. team is deep at the skill positions, can rush the passer, has an improved offensive line and a great young coach. What's not to like?
All that said, Lamar Jackson seems to be playing as he did during his 2019 MVP campaign. Not to mention, Marquise "Hollywood" Brown is actually catching passes. He eclipsed 100 yards last week and scored two touchdowns (including the game-winning catch in overtime). Simply put, this is a tough team to bet against. It did take last-second heroics for the Ravens to beat the winless Lions and a pretty pedestrian Colts team. Overall, Baltimore hasn't faced a test like this yet this season. Take the points and the better overall squad. Chargers may win this game, but if they don't, they are not going to lose by more than a field goal.
PICK: Chargers +3.5
It's been a tough start to the season for the Chiefs. They had great odds to return to the Super Bowl and are now last in the AFC West heading into Week 16 with a 2-3 record. They desperately need this game. This is a great opportunity for the Chiefs to prove they are still elite by defeating a team that made the postseason last year on the road. The Chiefs are going to turn it around against a Washington defense that is allowing the sixth-most passing yards and second-most passing touchdowns this season. Patrick Mahomes is going to blow up. Tyreek Hill is going to dominate. Travis Kelce is going to continue to provide a steady source of receptions down the middle of the field. As long as the Chiefs' offensive line holds against Chase Young, it's going to be a long day for Washington's defense. Betting on Mahomes to right the ship isn't a really difficult choice.
PICK: Chiefs -6.5
Yes, the Texans are one of the worst teams in the league. Betting on them on the road against a divisional rival might seem crazy at first. However, the Texans are 7-3 against the spread as underdogs in their last 10 games. Plus, the Colts are emotional after completely giving away the game against the Ravens in which they blew a 22-3 lead late in the game. This is going to cause a bit of a hangover in that locker room. When New England suffered a terrible loss against Tom Brady and the Bucs, the Texans managed to cover the spread the following week. Look for history to repeat itself. Texans coach David Culley has Houston playing hard in spite of its lack of talent and quarterback Davis Mills appeared to take a step forward last week against the Pats. Houston has played pretty good pass defense, too. The Texans have allowed only seven passing TDs this season.
PICK: Texans +9
Sunday night will be an interesting matchup to watch as Geno Smith will make his first start in four years as the Seahawks travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers. I hate betting on Ben Roethlisberger, but it's hard to envision the Seahawks covering the spread without the services of Russell Wilson. And as much as I think Big Ben should hang up his cleats, you have to give him credit for the way he dominated a solid Broncos defense last week. Roethlisberger looked better than he did earlier in the season and was able to get the ball to his playmakers -- Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and running back Najee Harris. Seattle's defense is one of the worst in the league and their secondary is even worse than their front seven. Look for the Steelers to light up Seattle in the passing game.
PICK: Steelers -5
Both of these offenses can put up a lot of points, though they go about it very differently. The Browns are a run-heavy team, and even though they will be without the services of Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt is more than capable of getting the job done. Meanwhile, Arizona's offense runs through electric quarterback Kyler Murray. Murray is able to move the chains with his legs but he isn't afraid to toss the ball either. He loves getting his guys involved and his weapons are elite in DeAndre Hopkins, Rondale Moore, and Christian Kirk.
The Browns are coming off an 89-point slugest with the Chargers and hit the OVER in their other game against a high-end offense in a 33-29 loss to the Chiefs. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have scored 30-plus points in four of five games this year. Smash the OVER.
PICK: OVER 49.5
Week 2 of the NFL was full of breakout performances, thrilling finishes and potentially the start of the Justin Fields era in the NFC North as the Bears' win over the Bengals finds them in first place in the division.
We cap off the week with a Monday Night Football showdown between the Packers and the Lions with the winner finding themselves tied for first in the North. The Packers put up an absolute dud of a performance last week against the Saints in Week 1 while the Lions looked surprisingly effective while playing catch-up against the West-leading 49ers. The expectations for these two teams couldn't have been further apart coming into the season but with matching 0-1 starts on the books, I think there are a couple of interesting props and roster construction angles to exploit.
NFL DFS Showdown Picks
*Prices are from DraftKings
Captain: TE T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions ($9,600) ($14,400)
I'm normally not a fan of playing a tight end in the captain spot, but T.J. Hockenson is not your average tight end. He finished 2020 with an elite 18% target share in the Lions' offense and picked up right where he left off in Week 1, finishing with an 18.2% share on 50 routes run last week. Hockenson has always carried premium TD upside as a red-zone target but what was most encouraging about last week was that he ran nearly 55% of his routes out of the slot, leaving him a matchup against Chandon Sullivan, who's allowing a 67% catch rate in his coverage. In a game where the Lions are projected to be down early, expect Hockenson to get fed once again. His red-zone utilization gives him enough juice to take the captain's chair in my builds.
Core Consideration: QB Jared Goff, Detroit Lions ($10,000)
Two principles I take into Showdown slates apply to this play. Generally speaking, if I have a pass-catcher as my captain, I'm finding a way to get their QB into a flex spot. The second is that your build needs to tell a story. Mine is that the Packers come out with something to prove after getting embarrassed in Week 1 and that we'll likely see upwards of 50 pass attempts from Jared Goff as he attempts to mount a comeback. Goff is a surprisingly effective passer when getting good protection and this unit gave him a clean pocket on 86.7% of snaps last week. Expect that to continue tonight as Goff will continue to feast in garbage time.
Contrarian Play: WR Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers ($2,000)
I still chuckle at the thought of the return of Randall Cobb being on the short-list of demands from Aaron Rodgers in the midst of his holdout. I do, however, think there is something to be said about the importance of chemistry between a quarterback and his receiver and I expect that in a typical game (which Week 1 was not), Aaron Rodgers is going to find his spots to get Cobb involved. In a game script that figures to have the Packers up by a healthy margin, not many are going to look at the tertiary passing options for Green Bay and I think a $2,000 Randall Cobb could sneak in a handful of receptions at single-digit ownership..
Salary Relief: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions ($2,400)
This one fits perfectly into my narrative for the game as well. In a game where the Lions are likely to flirt with 50+ pass attempts and coming off a week where St. Brown ran routes on 75% of the team's passing plays, I will be overweight on Amon-Ra tonight. Lining up in the slot on 74.5% of plays means St. Brown will primarily see coverage from Chandon Sullivan, the most favorable of the options GB lines up in their defensive secondary. Expect St. Brown to see his target volume increase tonight. If Detroit can be more effective in getting to the red zone, he carries decent scoring upside with the way he's utilized in this offense. Plus, who doesn't love the extra motivation of playing against their big bro?
Monday Night Football Best Bets
Taking a look at the wagering side of this game; before we determine anything else we must ask ourselves what we think of these Green Bay Packers. I tend to look at last week's performance as the exception and not the rule. With that being the case, I am laying the 11.5 points and taking GB tonight. Over the past six seasons, oddsmakers have been fairly sharp when it comes to these larger spreads and NFL teams cover double-digit spreads more than 55% of the time. The total for tonight is sitting at 48.5 and given the somewhat surprising ability of the Lions to make up ground last week, I am confidently on the "over" side of that line.
Picks: Packers -11.5, OVER 48.5 points
Taking a look at the prop market, I am again mainly investing in the "GB Blowout" narrative:
D'Andre Swift: OVER 28.5 Receiving Yard
Coming off a 65-yard performance in a very similar game script, this one feels like a no-brainer. Swift averages nearly 8 yards per reception so this really boils down to whether you think he catches more than 3 passes. I certainly do and I'm confidently on the OVER for this prop. FanDuel is currently carrying the best odds at -110.
T.J. Hockenson: Anytime TD
I'm not the biggest fan of these "to score" props, but I'll break from the norm with this one. I am projecting the Lions to at least have a go at it in this game and there simply isn't a scenario where that doesn't involve a score for Hockenson. +220 odds at FanDuel sort of feels like stealing given that I see this game going over the 48.5 total.
AJ Dillon | UNDER 8.5 Rushing Attempts
I know that the betting public is forecasting a fairly comfortable win for the Packers, but let's not get carried away. AJ Dillon would have to nearly double his career average for carries to get to this number. Plus, it's a bit unlikely that this game gets so far out of reach that Green Bay brings in their backups. Even last week when they did bring in the second-stringers, Dillon only saw 4 carries. I'm expecting Aaron Jones to have a monster day on the ground, as evidenced by my Saturday article.
Week 1 is in the books and it's time to move on to the best bets in Week 2.
If you listened to my article earlier this week, you would have started 1-0 for taking the Giants with the points against Washington in that thriller of a matchup Thursday night. Now, let's dive into Week 2's best NFL bets.
Tennessee Titans/Seattle Seahawks Over 54
The Seahawks' offense was high-flying in the first half last week. Because the Colts never really threatened the outcome of the game, the Seahawks were able to take the air out of the ball and finish the game with an easy win while only scoring seven in the second half. While both the Titans' defense and offense looked atrocious, expect Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry to have big bounce-back weeks and make this an epic high-scoring game. This has all the makings for a shootout in which both teams put up 30-plus points.
Cincinnati Bengals +2.5 @ Chicago Bears
Until that Monday night game, the Bengals had the honor of winning the craziest Week 1 game over the Vikings in overtime. The Bears' defense, which is supposed to be their strength, looked awful against the Rams, including one of the most blown coverages you'll ever see on Cooper Kupp's long touchdown. It was simply an awful week for the Bears. I don't think it gets any better until they remove Dalton and promote Justin Fields. If they don't do that prior to game time, the Bengals will run away with this one.
Los Angeles Rams -3.5 @ Indianapolis Colts
Coming out of Week 1 the Rams looked great on both sides of the ball. Matthew Stafford had a great first game, going 20 for 26 with three touchdowns. The Colts... They didn't look that great on either side of the ball. While Carson Wentz's overall numbers didn't look bad, most of the yardage and one of his two TDs came in the fourth quarter as they were chasing from two or more scores back, never actually threatening to win the game. I'm leaning towards the Rams winning this in a blowout and would consider alternate spreads.
Arizona Cardinals -3.5 vs. Minnesota Vikings
Kyler Murray appears to be a man on a mission to avenge last season's bitter ending after absolutely torching the Tennesee Titans in Nashville. The Vikings' defense, who hasn't been as formidable as years past, is going to have their hands full with Kyler. Last week they allowed Joe Burrow to complete nearly 80% of his passes, and Burrow isn't a threat to run nor has a receiver as talented as DeAndre Hopkins. If the Vikings offense doesn't step up and make this a shootout, things could get ugly in Phoenix.
Dallas Cowboys + 3.5 @ Los Angeles Chargers
Dak Prescott looked great in Week 1 and if there were any issues with his shoulder after throwing 58 times, he had 10 days to get healed up again and ready for the Chargers. I can almost guarantee, whenever the Cowboys go to play either Los Angeles team in their stadium, that there will be more Cowboys fans than LA fans. So while they aren't playing in Jerry World, they'll have more fan support. My concern for Justin Herbert and the Chargers is their efficiency in the red zone. His most potent weapons in Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler become less effective as they get closer to the goal line. That leaves Jared Cook and Mike Williams as your bigger bodies in the red zone, which isn't ideal. The Cowboys have a decent chance to win this one outright, but you can take the points for some cushion.
- Cowboys ML (+160)
- Titans +6.5 (-105)
- Steelers ML (-225)
- Rams -3.5 (-110)
Five Props To Consider
- Calvin Ridley OVER 6.5 receptions (+115)
- Tyrod Taylor OVER 34.5 Pass Attempts (-105)
- Aaron Jones OVER 88.5 combined yards (-115)
- Nick Chubb OVER 17.5 carries (-120)
- James Robinson OVER 9.5 carries (-125)
All five of these props have an excellent chance at hitting. I like the idea of wagering a three-leg prop parlay with the last three props listed (Jones, Chubb and J-Rob). Thanks me on Monday.