Game Thoughts: In terms of raw talent, the Chargers outclassed
their division rivals in the regular season’s final game.
Las Vegas avoided the big mistakes, however, and now find themselves
similarly outmatched in the Wild Card round. Can they pull off
another upset? We’ll see, but odds are they’ll need
more out of Derek Carr than he gave them in Week 18 when he passed
for 186 yards and a pair of TDs -- even those modest numbers were
better than what Carr managed in Week 11 against the Bengals when
he had 215 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT in a 19-point loss.
Although he was quiet against LA, Darren Waller had a big game
versus the Bengals, logging seven catches for a season-high 116
yards. He was injured four days later and did not return until
Week 18. The Raiders will need the impactful version of Waller
if they’re to advance. Hunter Renfrow is the other primary
target. Cincy held him in check in the earlier meeting, and the
Bolts largely did the same, though the Clemson product had two
TD receptions; that gives him four in Vegas’ last three
games. Beyond those two, you’re looking at long-shot contributors
like Bryan Edwards and Zay Jones.
Of the NFL’s 14 playoff teams, only the Chiefs allowed
more passing yards this season than the Bengals, which ranked
26th at 248.4 per game. They sacked Carr twice and forced a pair
of turnovers in their Week 11 win, but this is where the Raiders
need to attack as Cincinnati has been among the tougher teams
to run on. If Las Vegas is to spring the upset they’ll need
the trio of Carr, Waller and Renfrow to show up.
CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6
Running Game Thoughts: Although Josh Jacobs endured a rough 2021
campaign, he did finish strong with his only two performances
of 100-plus yards coming over the season’s final three weeks
(all wins to propel Las Vegas into the postseason). He tallied
just 37 yards on nine carries against the Bengals in the earlier
meeting, and they’ll need more from him on Saturday in an
effort to control the clock and keep Cincy’s offense off
the field. The Bengals and their fifth-ranked run defense (102.5
yards per game allowed) won’t make it easy, but the Raiders
need to possess the ball.
Game Thoughts: Rather than chase improved seeding, the
Bengals essentially sat everyone of importance last Sunday, using
Week 18 as a de facto bye. In their earlier meeting with the Raiders,
Joe Burrow passed for a season-low 148 yards and 1 TD in a 30-13
win that wasn’t nearly as one-sided as the score suggests
-- it was 16-13 midway through the fourth. Burrow threw for 300
yards or more in four of his five games after that performance,
however, including back-to-back monster games to close out the
season. Expect more passing from the Bengals this Saturday.
With Burrow throwing for just 148 yards in that earlier meeting,
the trio of Ja’Marr Chase (3-32-1), Tee Higgins (2-15-0)
and Tyler Boyd (6-49-0) were all quiet. Don’t expect a repeat
as all three of them could lay claim to closing out the season
on a high note. Chase eviscerated Kansas City for 266 yards and
3 TDs in Week 17, Higgins topped 100 yards in four of his final
six games, and Boyd carries an active three-game scoring streak
into the playoffs.
Las Vegas ranks 13th in pass defense for the season, yielding
222.9 yards per game, though they finished dead last in interceptions
with just six. They faced a similarly talented Chargers offense
last weekend and gave up 383 yards and 3 TDs via the air despite
emerging with the overtime win. Don’t read too much into
the earlier meeting when it comes to what kind of production Burrow
and company can deliver.
LV FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
LV FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
LV FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.28
LV FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5
Running Game Thoughts: Arguably the only Bengals offensive player
to excel back in Week 11 was Joe Mixon, who carried the ball 30
times for 123 yards and a pair of scores in what was one of just
three games of 100-plus yards he had in 2021. The Raiders ended
the year 19th in run defense, allowing 114.3 yards per game and
4.2 per carry. Mixon hasn’t logged more than 20 carries
since Nov. 28, but he had 13 receptions in his final two games,
so he’s still heavily involved offensively.
Game Thoughts: Bill Belichick is not afraid to let Mac
Jones drop back and throw the ball. The last time these teams
met, Jones attempted 32 passes, and has had at least 30 attempts
in five of the last six games. But Jones has also thrown five
INT’s in the last four games. Given Buffalo’s struggles
against the run late in the season, it follows that Jones will
be a game manager as New England continues to grind the ball.
The Pats really only have two viable receiving threats in WR
Jakobi Meyers, who leads the team in targets, receptions and receiving
yards, and TE Hunter Henry who is second on the team with 75 targets
and leads New England with nine receiving TD’s on the season.
A TD-dependent TE1, Henry is coming off an 86-yard effort, his
best game in two years. Look for Henry to play a larger role in
the playoffs as the Pats use the short passing game as an extension
of the run.
If they do need a big play, Kendrick Bourne is usually the first
option. He has five scores on the year, but is averaging just
three targets per game in recent weeks. The secondary is the strength
of this Buffalo defense, so while Bourne seems to have passed
Nelson Agholor in the pecking order, it won’t mean much
in this matchup.
BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30
Running Game Thoughts: The Bills defense has been exposed since
that Week 11 game against RB Jonathan Taylor and the Colts. Two
weeks later, the Pats famously threw just three times and ran
on this defense at will. While Buffalo has addressed some of those
issues, they are susceptible to the run, and that is where I expect
Belichick and company to attack. Unfortunately for fantasy owners,
he’s going to split that load between Damien Harris and
Rhamondre Stevenson. Both should average about 15 touches, and
Brandon Bolden should continue to see third down snaps in more
of a receiving role. Even in their Week 16 loss to Buffalo, when
they fell behind early, New England continued to run the ball
and actually came back to make a game of it.
Harris and Stevenson are high floor-low ceiling guys who could
flash, but I wouldn’t rely on that as a first option game
Game Thoughts: As the weather has gotten worse in Buffalo,
even the strong-armed Allen has struggled at home. Since the start
of December, he has not completed more than 55% of his passes
in any game, and has not passed for 250 yards in a game. His best
effort was 239 yards last week, and that was against the Jets.
He has still been a factor in the red zone though, connecting
on six scoring throws and two TD runs in those same four games.
He is still one of your top QB options for Wild Card Weekend.
Even in bad weather, Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis continue to
see targets, averaging 10 and 7 over the last six weeks, respectively.
They will continue to be fantasy starting options this week, despite
the Patriots joining the Bills as one of the top passing defenses
in the league.
Cole Beasley, once a target monster in the short to intermediate
passing game, has seen a drop in production in the second half
of the season with the rise of Isaiah McKenzie, who can work from
the slot or on the perimeter, and has been more of a factor in
the red zone in recent weeks. He could be a sleeper in the mix.
NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32
Running Game Thoughts: The Patriots have allowed over 2100 rushing
yards this season at a clip of 4.5 yards per carry. RB Devin Singletary
is poised to take advantage. The clear work horse in Buffalo,
he has averaged 21 total touches over the last five games and
has at least three games in that stretch with more than 20. Zack
Moss has become the short yardage back, but Singletary continues
to see red zone snaps and has a definite role in the passing attack
as well. He’s your clear play at RB in this game for either
Eagles at Buccaneers
- (Swanson) Line: TB -8.0 Total: 45.5
Game Thoughts: The Eagles kick off their playoff run
with a difficult road matchup against Tom Brady and the Bucs in
Tampa Bay. In a classic battle between a young and inexperienced
playoff team taking on the defending Super Bowl champ Bucs, 23-year-old
Jalen Hurts takes on a 44-year-old ageless wonder in Tom Brady.
Hurts entered the season as a favorite breakout candidate for
fantasy writers. Although he did not turn out to be this year’s
Lamar Jackson or Josh Allen of previous seasons, he did finish
with at the No.7 ranked QB in fantasy points per game and led
all quarterbacks with 10 rushing touchdowns.
Sunday’s contest will be a rematch of a Week 6 tilt in
which Hurts posted a solid 25 fantasy points, with two rushing
touchdowns and 115 passing yards. On the positive side, Hurts
managed to use his legs effectively as a weapon and posted two
scores on the ground. On the negative side, he complied just 46%
of his passes against Tampa Bay’s secondary while posting
his second-lowest yardage total of the year.
It will be interesting to see how the Eagles approach this game.
They are a run-heavy offense that finished with the second-most
rushing attempts in the league behind the Titans. If head coach
Nick Siriani had his way, they would follow their previous games
with a run-heavy attack against the Bucs. Unfortunately, the Bucs
boast one of the best run defenses in the league and will make
that goal difficult to obtain.
Add in the fact that Tom Brady and the offense are getting reinforcements
with Leonard Fournette returning from IR and a possible negative
game script for running, and you have the likelihood of Hurts
needing to throw a ton.
He will lean on rookie DeVonta Smith and his wide receivers for
sure, but the player to watch is tight end Dallas Goedert. The
Bucs gave up the 15th most points to tight ends this season and
can be beaten by that position because of their aggressiveness
on play action.
TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.7
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15
Running Game Thoughts: Boston Scott proved to be a league-winning
play in Week 17, with a pair of rushing touchdowns against the
Washington Football Team. Scott and Jordan Howard carried the
load for injured Miles Sanders (hand), with the former providing
two critical rushing scores.
Kenneth Gainwell and Jason Huntley shared carries in the meaningless
Week 18 game in which both Scott and Howard sat. If playing DFS,
Scott projects to be the better play for two reasons.
First, the Bucs are a stout run defense, and running between
the tackles is not easy, and Howard is more likely to be the one
to attack the middle of the defense. Second, as the better pass
catcher, Scott projects to get more work if the game script does,
in fact, go sideways on the Eagles.
Game Thoughts: At age 44, Tom Brady has put together
arguably his best season as a pro. He led all quarterbacks in
passing yards, completions, and passing touchdowns. One would
think that he is in line to win another MVP award, although Aaron
Rodgers has a valid case as well.
The Eagles finished the season ranked 20th in points allowed
to quarterbacks, but over the past five weeks, they have allowed
just six passing touchdowns and 864 yards as they took advantage
of an easy late-season slate.
Brady put up a modest 297/2 line when the two teams faced off
back in Week 6. It wasn’t his best game by any measure,
and he did throw one of his 12 interceptions on the year.
Like the Eagles defense, Brady took advantage of a fairly weak
final three games of the season, with monster games against the
Jets and the Panthers twice. The Jets nearly pulled off the upset,
but Brady came through in the end for both the Bucs fan base and
An interesting matchup to watch will be Mike Evans outside against
Darius Slay. Only the Bills gave up fewer points to wide receivers
than the Eagles this season, and Slay provided a pro-bowl performance.
Evans is banged up with leg issues but logged a full practice
on Thursday. He will be needed, as the Bucs already lost Chris
Godwin to an ACL tear, and Antonio Brown went nuclear two weeks
ago against the Jets.
Look for this to be a monster game for Rob Gronkowski. The Eagles
are the second-worst defense at stopping tight ends, and Gronk
will be relied upon even more than normal with the depleted wide
In DFS, Gronk should be a smash play with close to 100 yards
and a score.
PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1
Running Game Thoughts: The team will look to activate starting
running back Leonard Fournette from his hamstring injury that
forced him to the short-term IR.
The team has not been as efficient running the ball with Fournette
out, as evident to the 21 combined rushes for just 62 yards back
in Week 17 against a Jets team that was destroyed on the ground
by other teams.
The Eagles are a team that can be run on, and the Bucs will look
to run the ball early and often with a depleted wide receiving
group and the fact that the Eagles are strong against limiting
wide receiver production.
If you are in a playoff league, Fournette should be in your lineup
if he is active.
The Bucs do have an extensive list of players on the injury report,
including Ronald Jones, who is dealing with an ankle injury, and
backup WR Cyril Grayson, who was out on Thursday with a hamstring.
Fellow reserve wide receiver Breshad Perriman was limited with
a hip. If you are looking for a sleeper DFS play, Scotty Miller
could be interesting.
49ers at Cowboys
- (Ken Ilchuk) Line: DAL -3.0 Total: 51.0
Game Thoughts: QB Jimmy Garoppolo seems intent to finish
this 49ers run strong. Over the last three games, he is averaging
well over 70% completion rate and almost 10 yards per attempt,
including back-to-back 300-yard efforts. HC Kyle Shanahan seems
willing to ride or die with Jimmy G and hasn’t hesitated
to put the ball in his QB’s hands in the big moment. That’s
a recipe for success for fantasy owners, especially against an
improving, but sometimes inconsistent Dallas defense.
Deebo Samuel is the glue, the spark, whatever you want to call
him – he’s the guy that makes the offense go. He’s
a threat as a runner, as a receiver out of the slot, on the perimeter,
on the move, whatever, and Shanahan continues to invent ways to
get the ball in his hands. The Niners have been in do-or-die mode
for a few weeks now and Deebo has been the go-to guy, averaging
almost 15 touches per game. Get him on your roster this week.
Brandon Aiyuk has come alive with over 200 receiving yards over
the last two games and a 20-yard average per catch. He’s
the big play guy along with TE George Kittle, who has seen a dip
in production in recent weeks with his role as a blocker in the
run game. But, he continues to be Garoppolo’s security blanket
when he needs a play.
DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
DAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13
Running Game Thoughts: Despite Garoppolo’s strong finish
to the season, it has been San Francisco’s commitment to
the run that has sparked their late season surge. Elijah Mitchell
has run the ball 42 times over the last two games, has at least
20 totes in five straight games, and has posted 100-yard rushing
efforts in four of his last eight contests. On volume alone, he
gets the nod as one of the top RB1 candidates for Wild Card Weekend.
Game Thoughts: Is Dak back? It certainly seems that way.
He has tossed 12 TD’s in the last three games while averaging
over 8.5 yards per attempt. That includes a 330-yard effort and
another near-300 yard performance in the season finale. Now, that
work came against a bad Washington team, a Cardinals team that
limped its’ way to the end of the season, and a Philly defense
that was resting most of its’ starters. But if it’s
just about getting back his mojo, Prescott is there, and the Cowboys
are much more likely to attack the 49ers defense through the air
– a unit that is yielding an opposing QB rating of nearly
100.0 on the season.
Dak’s quiver is full and healthy. Amari Cooper, since becoming
the squeaky wheel, has seen a significant bump in opportunities
and production and seems to be the WR1 in this attack, but CeeDee
Lamb is still a big play waiting to happen and could be due for
another breakout. Cedrick Wilson’s late season burst will
force San Francisco to account for him, which could open things
up even more in the passing game. TE Dalton Schultz is also a
threat with four touchdowns in his last four games after a midseason
SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26
Running Game Thoughts: Zeke Elliott’s 87 rushing yards
last week were a welcome sight, but again, it came against an
Eagles team pretty much playing out the string. Despite claims
of being back to full health, he just hasn’t looked the
part, and Tony Pollard has been the more explosive back, both
as a runner and as a receiver.
With that being said, Dallas seems intent on feeding Elliott
the ball, particularly in the red zone and near the goal line,
so Pollard’s ceiling is limited unless Elliott is hobbled
again. It might not be a bad play to tie these guys together on
your roster if you have to, but against a 49ers defense allowing
less than 4.0 yards per carry in the run game, it’s going
to be tough sledding no matter who gets the ball.
Game Thoughts: Pittsburgh entered play in Week 18 with
slim odds of securing a playoff berth... and yet here they are.
With their win over Baltimore, coupled with losses from Indy (at
Jacksonville!) and Los Angeles, the Steelers claimed the No. 7
seed and a return trip to Kansas City, where they lost 36-10 in
Week 16. Ben Roethlisberger passed for 244 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT
in Baltimore. Those are middling numbers but still represent a
major step up from the 159 yards he threw for in KC, most of which
came in garbage time in a game that was essentially over at the
One interesting development for the Steelers is the potential
return of JuJu Smith-Schuster (shoulder), who has been out since
Week 5 with a shoulder injury that was supposed to end his season.
It’s no sure thing that he’ll play Sunday night, but
it’s a piece of encouraging news for an offense that has
really struggled. Diontae Johnson (7-51-0) made a surprisingly
quick return of his own last Sunday, coming off the COVID IR to
lead the club in targets and receptions. Chase Claypool (5-37-1)
caught the team’s only touchdown pass, and Pat Freiermuth
paced the club with 53 yards on six grabs.
Kansas City ranked 27th against the pass this season, allowing
251.4 yards per game, which was the most among the league’s
playoff qualifiers. A chunk of that can still be attributed to
their miserable start to be sure, and they had no difficulty in
locking down Pittsburgh’s dink-and-dunk approach just three
weeks prior. Still, perhaps the return of Freiermuth, who missed
that game with a concussion, and maybe even Smith-Schuster will
change the equation.
KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.15
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17
Running Game Thoughts: Najee Harris (elbow) logged just 15 touches
in Week 18 and has yet to practice this week due to an elbow injury.
The team is holding out hope that he’ll be available as
the rookie has been their steadiest contributor on offense. He
had 110 total yards against KC in Week 16. If Harris can’t
play, Benny Snell (12-22-0) will get the call, which is a major
downgrade. The Chiefs sit 21st in run defense at 117.6 yards per
game, but their 4.8 YPC allowed was second-worst in the NFL.
Game Thoughts: With a shot at the No. 1 seed still on
the table last Saturday, the Chiefs played their starters in a
hard-fought win over Denver. Patrick Mahomes connected on 27 of
his 44 passes for 270 yards, 2 TDs and 0 INTs while also scampering
for a team-best 54 yards. It’s a reminder that the ultra-athletic
Mahomes always holds that running ability in reserve for big spots,
and the playoffs qualify as that. Mahomes had little trouble with
the Steelers in their earlier meeting, passing for 258 yards and
3 TDs in a game the Chiefs led 30-0 at one point.
The most interesting subplot of that throttling of the Steelers
is that Travis Kelce missed the game on the COVID list while Tyreek
Hill (heel) managed just two receptions. Hill picked up a heel
injury in Week 18 and played sparingly, so that’s a situation
that should be closely monitored. Kelce (4-34-1) was quiet last
Saturday, but he’s as dangerous as they come, and his presence
is another problem for the Steelers, which gave up eight catches
and 85 yards to Mark Andrews last weekend.
Byron Pringle and Mecole Hardman should have a puncher’s
chance to contribute as well; Pringle scored twice against the
Steelers in that earlier meeting, and Hardman topped 100 yards
in the season finale. Pittsburgh finished ninth in pass defense
at 215.1 yards allowed per game, and their ability to get heat
on Mahomes may determine whether they have any shot of getting
the upset win. The Steelers ranked first in the NFL with 55 sacks,
led by T.J. Watt’s 21.5.
PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23
Running Game Thoughts: Clyde Edwards-Helaire (shoulder) injured
his shoulder versus the Steelers on Dec. 26 and hasn’t played
since. His status is up in the air for Sunday, but it certainly
seems to be trending in the wrong direction. Minus CEH, the duo
of Darrel Williams and Derrick Gore should continue to see most
of the work. Williams had 85 total yards against the Steelers
in Week 16 with Gore logging 104 of his own. Pittsburgh was the
league’s worst run defense in 2021, allowing 146.1 yards
per game and 5.0 per carry, though KC averaged a more modest 3.6
YPC against them.
Rams at Cardinals
- (Caron) Line: LAR - 4.0 Total: 49.0
Game Thoughts: Matt Stafford looked like a potential
MVP candidate at one point this season, but the Rams quarterback
has certainly struggled down the stretch, at least from a fantasy
standpoint. Stafford threw seven interceptions in his final three
games and while he wasn’t terrible, he just wasn’t
the borderline elite QB that he was earlier in the season. From
a positive standpoint, his most recent “big” game
came back in Week 14 against the very same Cardinals defense he’ll
face here in the first round of the playoffs. Stafford threw for
287 yards and three touchdowns and avoided throwing any interceptions
in what was a solid Rams road victory over their division rivals.
That was a nice improvement from what Stafford delivered back
in Week 4 against Arizona when he threw for 280 yards and just
two touchdowns with an interception. Overall, though, Stafford’s
numbers have been solid this season and there’s little reason
to think that he won’t continue to come through for his
fantasy owners during the wild card week.
Wide receiver Cooper Kupp completed one of the greatest receiving
seasons of all time and now he gets to face a Cardinals defense
that he caught a season-high 13 passes against for 123 yards and
a touchdown. While he was held in check back in Week 4, Kupp has
been absolutely incredible and he shouldn’t be looked at
as anything other than one of the very best fantasy options in
Wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Van Jefferson have had their
moments but both players are taking such a back seat to Kupp that
it’s tough to really be confident in them and it’s
very possible that they deliver duds. Both players scored against
the Cardinals back in Week 14, but Jefferson hasn’t scored
since and Beckham has been held to fewer than 40 yards in four
straight games despite scoring a pair of touchdowns during that
Tight end Tyler Higbee has quietly been the most productive pass
catcher in Los Angeles—aside from Kupp—down the stretch.
Higbee was disappointing this year, but he has now caught at least
five passes in each of his final four games, including a two-touchdown
performance in Week 18. Unfortunately, Higbee did not have much
success against the Cardinals this season in the one game he played
against them. Worse yet, the Cardinals have locked up every tight
end they’ve played this season as they gave up the second-fewest
fantasy points per game to the position. Higbee just isn’t
a great option in this playoff matchup.
ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.17
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31
Running Game Thoughts: Cam Akers made his return in Week 18, completing
what was an absolutely incredible return from a torn Achilles
injury that he suffered before the season started. While he’s
back on the field and may even technically be the “starter”
in Los Angeles, the Rams showed their hand when they gave five
carries to Akers while his backfield-mate Sony Michel continued
to operate as the team’s primary ball carrier with 21 attempts.
It’s possible that Akers ends up eating into the backfield
more this week, but it’s hard to bank on that.
Michel has been a workhorse down the stretch and while he doesn’t
do much in the passing game, he’s seeing a massive workload
as a ball carrier which has allowed him to deliver some nice fantasy
performances. The last time he faced the Cardinals, he was held
in check as he ran for just 79 yards on 20 carries and didn’t
get into the end zone. Still, a 20-touch game is not out of the
question this week as Michel has not yet finished with fewer than
18 carries in a game since he became the primary back for the
Rams. That kind of workload alone is enough to make him a strong
Game Thoughts: With DeAndre Hopkins out for the season,
the thing that’s been saving Kyler Murray’s fantasy
value is his rushing. Murray rushed for 35 or more yards just
once (39 yards vs. the Rams) in his first eight games of the season,
but reached that mark or more in five of his final six games post-injury.
The rushing floor is a big part of the reason that we were drafting
Murray as high as we were so it’s been nice to see that,
but it sure would be nice if we could see at least one of his
receivers start producing some bigger numbers.
Christian Kirk has been the best option for the Cardinals down
the stretch as he was targeted nine or more times in three of
the team’s final four games. He was fine due to the high
volume but we’d expect more from someone who’s seeing
a near Hopkins-level target share in this Cardinals offense. Still,
Kirk’s usage has to make him a decent WR2 in this contest.
Fellow wide receivers A.J. Green and Antoine Wesley, and even
Rondale Moore if he returns, need to remain on fantasy benches.
They’re just not seeing enough volume to give us good fantasy
Tight end Zach Ertz has remained the Cardinals’ defacto
WR2 option since Hopkins’ injury and he looks like he’ll
continue to fill that role for the foreseeable future. He’s
been targeted at least nine times in each of the Cardinals’
final four games and he’s now caught at least five passes
in five straight games. He may not be as exciting as the Kelce/Kittle
group at the top, but he’s quietly delivering very good
numbers down the stretch and can be trusted as a TE1.
LAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
LAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.21
LAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
LAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20
Running Game Thoughts: Both Cardinals running backs James Conner
and Chase Edmonds have injury designations heading into Monday
night’s wildcard round game, but it’s Conner who’s
currently looking less likely to play now that he sat out Thursday’s
practice. Conner is dealing with a rib injury and it’s hard
to know, for certain, that he’ll even be healthy enough
to suit up, let alone take the bulk of the backfield touches.
Edmonds, meanwhile, has a rib injury of his own but has been able
to practice in limited fashion and looks like he’ll at least
be in line to play.
If both Cardinals backs are unavailable, the team would likely
have to turn to Eno Benjamin. Benjamin hasn’t carried the
ball more than 10 times in a game this season but he did see 11
total touches in Week 18 when Edmonds ended up not playing. Benjamin
doesn’t have quite the upside that Conner or Edmonds do,
but if he ended up being the sole back in Arizona this week then
he’d realistically be an option as a low-end RB2.
If we assume that Conner and Edmonds will both be on the field,
though, each back is a mid-level RB2 with potentially higher upside
depending on your scoring system. If one or the other is out,
however, we’ve seen both players be capable of producing
low-end RB1 numbers. Either way, fantasy managers will need to
pay close attention to the injury reports.