Last Second Decisions: Golden Tate or Davante Adams?

On Saturday morning, fantasy owners will inevitably struggle through decisions of which similarly priced players to start. Let fantasy expert Ricky Sanders guide you through five difficult decisions many will dealing with heading into the Wildcard Round of the playoffs:

QB – Ben Roethlisberger/Russell Wilson – As always, playing the home/away splits for Ben Roethlisberger is a winning proposition. This week, he will draw the matchup against a Dolphins team that allowed the fourth most fantasy points to opposing QBs this season…in Heinz Field. Additionally, Antonio Brown will enjoy the second most substantial advantage of any WR/CB matchup this week according to Pro Football Focus so Roethlisberger should be able to find him early and often. However, the Dolphins rank 22nd in rushing defense according to Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) metric so Le’Veon Bell should have himself a day as well. Lately, the team tends to turn to him first in the red zone before they give Roethlisberger a chance to throw a TD which partially explains why Roethlisberger has not topped 21 fantasy points since Nov. 13. On the other hand, Russell Wilson will square off against a Lions defense that surrendered the 10th fewest fantasy points to opposing RBs this season but the third most to QBs. Essentially, they have limited production to opposing RBs, and Thomas Rawls will head into this game struggling, so QBs have been the ones to beat them. Over the course of his last five home games, Wilson has topped 21 fantasy points four times and managed at least 17 fantasy points in all of them. At a sizable enough discount, Wilson presents the better value of the two even though they are both clearly in excellent spots. Verdict: Russell Wilson

RB – Jay Ajayi/Lamar Miller – Only one member of this duo topped 200 yards rushing thrice this season and that man is obviously Jay Ajayi. In fact, the first team he busted out and topped the 200 yard mark against was the Steelers. Despite making the playoffs, the Steelers defense was nowhere near as stout as past seasons as they finished 12th in passing DVOA and 11th in rushing DVOA while allowing the seventh most fantasy points to opposing RBs. Unfortunately for Ajayi, Matt Moore does not exactly strike fear in the heart of opposing defensive coordinators so the Steelers will definitely focus and possibly even sell out in order to stop Ajayi from torching them once again. I expect plenty of adjustments to be made. Meanwhile, Lamar Miller torched the Raiders earlier in the season as well and the offensive personnel is virtually the same this go-around. As the season wore on, the Raiders cornerbacks improved drastically. Over the course of the last month, the Raiders allowed the 12th fewest fantasy points to opposing WRs after looking absolutely putrid against the position over the course of the first four games. Consequently, teams resorted to the run against them and they finished as the 18th ranked team in terms of DVOA. The best the Texans can hope for in the passing game is for Brock Osweiler to be simply good enough to win as he is not a special talent whatsoever. Consequently, the team will fully lean on Miller in order for them to cover a -3.5 spread (as opposed to the Dolphins who are +10). With the team listed as home favorites, I feel much more comfortable about Miller’s prospects than Ajayi’s and the matchup is much more favorable on paper as well. Verdict: Lamar Miller

WR – Golden Tate/Davante Adams – Both of these receivers face similar situations this week with their typically productive offenses squaring off against imposing secondaries. According to Pro Football Focus, the most common matchup Davante Adams will face this week is Eli Apple while Golden Tate will see plenty of Richard Sherman. By this fact alone, Adam seems like the vastly superior play, but Tate moves all around the formation. This season, Tate has lined up on the left side of the formation 31-percent of the time, in the slot 28-percent of the time and on the right side 41-percent of the time. Therefore, he will see a mix of Sherman, DeShawn Shead and Jeremy Lane throughout the course of the game. However, Adams is still the superior option because both Jordy Nelson and Geronimo Allison/Randall Cobb (whomever starts in the slot) will see a ton of Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: two of the game’s top corners. By default, Adams will see an uptick in targets mostly because his man is the most beatable. Heading into this game rolling, having scored six TDs in his last five games, Adams gets the nod. Verdict: Davante Adams

WR – Michael Crabtree/Amari Cooper – Similarly to the Giants, the Texans secondary is equipped with two formidable corners in A.J. Bouye and Jonathan Joseph. While Joseph was getting healthy earlier in the year, he struggled, but his Pro Football Focus rating has been on an arrow upwards for quite some time after grading inside the top 20-25 at the position for three straight seasons. Still, it is tough to say anyone has played better football than Bouye who graded as Pro Football Focus’ fourth best cornerback this year. In the first meeting, Amari Cooper was targeted only five times but he caught four of them for 57 yards and a TD while being shadowed by Bouye. Reports this week suggest the Texans are considering “feeding” Cooper all day long despite the fact Michael Crabtree was targeted more times than him (seven) in the first meeting. In that game, Crabtree only caught three passes for five yards so he had an even more difficult time against Joseph than Cooper did against a star. The issue here is Connor Cook will start this ballgame as opposed to Derek Carr so the game plan could/should be different. In this case, trusting the reports and previous data seems like the safer bet so Cooper gets the nod despite a matchup against one of the game’s best. Verdict: Amari Cooper

TE – Ladarius Green/C.J. Fiedorowicz – As of Friday, Ladarius Green did not participate in practice. Coach Mike Tomlin said he was still in concussion protocol and they did not get the results they wanted after he practiced. Now he is listed as questionable for the game after it appeared he was going to play the entire week. Unfortunately, this is looking like a scenario where he is deemed inactive and Jesse James starts which makes this an easy either/or. C.J. Fiedorowicz, even though he played 39 offensive snaps to Ryan Griffin’s 54 last week, is still the superior option on his own team. The outcome of Week 17 had zero bearing on the Texans playoff seeding so Fiedorowicz should dominate the snaps once again this week. If you were considering Green, his odds of playing are not looking great right now. Verdict: C.J. Fiedorowicz

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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