Safe Bets: Give (Emmanuel) Sanders the Nomination

Last week at this point I decided to take the time to analyze a single matchup because it stood out to be as above and beyond the best game for fantasy purposes. There is no such matchup this week although I’m sure there will be plenty of fantasy goodness spewing out of the Seahawks/Panthers game but not enough to dedicate a lone article to. Therefore, this week I’m reverting back to the “safe bets” article instead to identify high floor players from all of this weekend’s games.

Safety is the name of the game in cash games, but FantasyDraft also pays out at least 25 percent of the field in every single contest, including tournaments, as well. This should motivate users to lean towards safe options in all formats on a site that puts #PlayersFirst. Without the top-heavy nature of tournaments, single entrants do not have to go with a “YOLO (you only live once)” mindset in tournaments, but can play for a solid cash instead. That makes life a whole lot easier. Here are my safe bets for the Divisional Round of the playoffs:

Russell Wilson, Seahawks, $12,700 – Carolina is one of the toughest passing defenses in the NFL so the matchup is not ideal. The Panthers allowed the fourth fewest fantasy points to the quarterback (QB) position this season. With that being said, there is still plenty of reason to feel secure rostering Russell Wilson beginning with the running game (or lack thereof). Even if Marshawn Lynch suits up, he will not be 100-percent as he’s been dealing with an abdomen injury since week 10. He attempted to suit up last week but suffered a setback and the coaching staff decided to hold him out. He practiced in full on Wednesday but it’s unlikely he receives a full “Beast Mode” workload in just his first game back. Therefore, the Seahawks will have to rely on what has worked since Thomas Rawls went down in week 13: the passing game. Since week 13, Wilson has failed to throw two touchdowns (TDs) just once and that was last week against the Minnesota Vikings. . In what could turn into a shootout, I think Wilson is forced to throw 30-ish times. Doug Baldwin has turned into a TD machine, and although he’ll have a difficult matchup with Josh Norman, both Tyler Lockett and Jermaine Kearse have developed into playmakers as well. The fact that they may be able to establish the run with Lynch back could open up the passing game even more and Wilson should be in for a solid fantasy day especially once you factor in his rushing ability.

David Johnson, Cardinals, $11,300 – Before the Lynch news, David Johnson was essentially the only sure thing option of the week. Now, with Lynch back, there is at least somewhat of a decision but there’s little doubt Johnson will be the highest owned back of the week. His price still hasn’t approached the level it should be (around the $14,000 range) so many are going to choose to take the well-rounded workhorse back at the discount once again. Not only is Johnson a workhorse but he catches passes which is conducive to the PPR format and he possesses the ability to take it to the house on any touch. With his combination of skills and a less than scary matchup, there’s zero reason not to roster him in cash formats. The contrarian play would be to fade him in tournaments but it’s also within reason he puts up a score substantial enough that you won’t be winning any GPPs unless you have him. Roster construction will be up to you but I would recommend having a comfortable number of shares with him if you’re going to have some without him as well.

Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos, $10,900 – Whether or not you believe narratives are real, Peyton Manning has a lot to prove this upcoming weekend. This could be the final page of his legacy so he will want to go out with a bang. Pittsburgh’s pass defense has been susceptible all season and Emmanuel Sanders draws an elite individual matchup this week. Antwon Blake has been beaten like a drum all season and he grades as the worst cover corner in action this weekend according to Pro Football Focus. Sanders is priced over $2,000 less than his counterpart Demaryius Thomas yet I think he will end up scoring more fantasy points. When the two teams meet in week 15, Sanders caught 10 passes for 181 yards and a TD and added one carry for 24 yards. While I wouldn’t anticipate quite that monstrous of a game, expectations should be high and his price tag is an incredible bargain.

Michael Floyd, Cardinals, $10,200 – Over the past five weeks of the NFL season, Michael Floyd caught at least five passes in four of those games. The only game in which he failed to reach five was a week 17 game in which the Cardinals were blown out of their own building. In fact, the score got so ugly that the Cardinals decided to pull the starters and backup Drew Stanton ended up attempting 18 passes. In other words, the game was a mirage and I think Floyd should get back to his consistent ways. Down the stretch, he actually out-produced Larry Fitzgerald who fell off a cliff up until week 17 (six receptions, 55 yards and a TD). The Cardinals do not have a true number one wide receiver (WR) but they do have three guys who produce on a consistent basis. Both Floyd and John Brown are possession WRs with the ability to break a long one so both their floors and ceilings are quite high. This week, I want the player with a better chance to score due to his height, which is why Floyd is my guy. He is a safe bet for 12 fantasy points with the upside to break 20 against a Packers defense that ranked middle of the pack against opposing WRs.

Greg Olsen, Panthers, $13,000 – If there’s one hole in the Seattle Seahawks defense, it has been their inability to cover opposing tight ends (TEs) all season. They allowed the ninth most fantasy points to the tight end position including eight TDs. When Carolina and Seattle dueled in week six, Greg Olsen caught seven passes for 131 yards and a TD. Leading the team in receiving was no outlier as he caught 33 more passes than anyone else on the team and was targeted 27 more times than second place Tedd Ginn Jr. He’s clearly Cam Newton’s top target in the offense and the matchup is prime as he should take advantage of the defense’s weakness. While Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce are options this week as well, Olsen is the safest of the bunch (and Kelce may have the most upside sans Jeremy Maclin).

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called DailyRoto.com, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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