Cook Up a Solid Playoff Lineup

Sometimes when constructing a daily fantasy football roster, you are able to fit most of the players that feel like staples. However, if spending up on certain positions, then salary will assuredly need to be saved on others by default. Here are a group of players listed at bargain costs who will help fill in the missing pieces of a mostly-constructed lineup in the Divisional Round of the 2016-17 Playoffs:

Alex Smith, Chiefs, $10,600 – At home this week, the Chiefs are listed as slight favorites (1.5 points) despite only being implied to score 22.8 points. The team will square off against a Steelers defense that has allowed the fifth fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs this season and ranks 12th in pass defense according to Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) metric. On paper, the matchup is not great but the Steelers are especially susceptible to opposing number one WRs and Tyreek Hill has emerged as Smith’s clear top option. Most will spend down on Dak Prescott if at all so Smith is the only alternative with any form of upside (unless you feel like trusting Brock Osweiler). Although Smith is not the sexiest name in fantasy football, he did finish the season with back-to-back 23-plus fantasy point outings against defenses that ranked as top nine passing defenses, per DVOA. The Steelers rank just outside, so especially at home, there certainly is no reason why Smith cannot crush value at a near minimum price tag.

Devonta Freeman, Falcons, $11,000 – Okay so Devonta Freeman is not a bargain in the truest sense but there are limited options this weekend with only four games. Last week, Zach Zenner struggled to get the game going (34 yards on 11 carries) but he caught six passes for 54 yards against the very Seahawks that Devonta Freeman will face in the Divisional round. During the course of the regular season, only David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell, James White and Bilal Powell caught more passes than Freeman amongst RBs and only Johnson, Bell, White and Duke Johnson gained more receiving yards at the position. When the teams squared off earlier in the year, Freeman rushed 12 times for 40 yards and caught 3-5 targets for 10 yards. Since that time, the Seahawks have become surprisingly susceptible to opposing backs as they ranked in the middle of the pack in terms of fantasy points allowed to the position over the last month. According to Football Outsiders, the Falcons’ offensive line rates as a superior unit in all aspects of run blocking (power, stuffed, second level and open field) so he should not be overlooked simply because of a difficult matchup. For someone set to see a healthy amount of touches on an elite offense, he is simply way too cheap.

Dion Lewis, Patriots, $7,700 – Relying on a three-headed backfield is not usually a high probability investment but Dion Lewis has seen a consistent role over the last three games. During that span, Lewis has received 18, 16 and 11 carries respectively, which is a downward trend, but not one I am overly concerned about…especially against a Texans defense that ranked 28th in DVOA against RBs in the passing game this season. In fact, the Texans defense allowed 41.6 yards receiving per game to the position and even ranked 17th in terms of rushing DVOA. Sure LeGarrette Blount is going to see his fair share of work as well but Lewis is an explosive player who topped 4.0 yards per carry (YPC) in every game this season but one and yet has failed to score a TD. At some point, a positive TD regression is coming and what better time for it to come than against a defense that struggles against receiving backs? On this elite offense, there is always a fair amount of upside for the backs so do not be shy rostering him at this basement price in any and all formats (if necessary).

Mohamed Sanu, Falcons, $7,800 – Mohamed Sanu, on the other hand, is more of a GPP only play but a pretty solid one. Facing the Seahawks is no easy task for opposing WRs but the place to beat them is in the slot. Since Sanu lines up in the slot 59-percent of the time, he certainly qualifies, and he will draw the enticing matchup against nickel corner Jeremy Lane. In all likelihood, Coach Pete Carroll will focus most of his energy scheming against Julio Jones so Sanu may fly under the radar. Over the course of his final two games, Sanu was targeted eight times and managed at least 8.60 fantasy points in each. In the first meeting against the Seahawks, Sanu was targeted a season-high 10 times and he caught five of them for 47 yards and one of his three TDs. On a short week such as this, every player does not need to finish with 100 yards and a TD in order to win tournaments. Sanu certainly has five reception (REC), 60 yard potential with the ability to cap it off with a TD if the coverage breaks his way. In a week devoid of many high upside bargains at the skill positions, Sanu could prove to be a diamond in the rough.

Geronimo Allison, Packers, $7,700 – Yesterday, Geronimo Allison was mentioned as a safe bet yesterday as well on the FantasyDraft Locker Room but a bargains article would not be complete this week without the Packers third WR. Allison regressed to just one catch for eight yards (on two targets) in the Wildcard Round but his role should be expected to increase once again with Jordy Nelson doubtful to suit up. Broken ribs are no joke and it would take a miracle for Nelson to play. Down the stretch, Allison stepped up for an injured Randall Cobb and caught eight of 13 targets for 157 yards and a TD in the final two weeks of the season. Now, filling in for an even more impactful receiver, he certainly has the potential to be equally important to the offense in this game. Oh by the way, this game is projected as by the highest over/under of the weekend (52.0 points) and the Packers are implied to score 24 of them. Allison is a monster play in any and all formats playing alongside elite QB Aaron Rodgers in an expanded role.

Jared Cook, Packers, $7,700 – Jared Cook is viable for virtually all the same reasons as Allison except he was targeted nine times last week even with Nelson healthy for a majority of the game. Although the Cowboys finished with the best record in football, they ranked 18th in DVOA against the pass overall and 30th against opposing TEs. Sans Cobb in Weeks 16 and 17, Cook was targeted 13 times and caught seven passes for 93 yards. Having been targeted at least eight times in three of the last four weeks after being targeted eight-plus times just once before that, Cook’s role in the offense is clearly on the rise. If spending up for the plethora of enticing options at both the RB (Ezekiel Elliott, Le’Veon Bell) and WR (Antonio Brown, Davante Adams, Dez Bryant, Julian Edelman) positions, Cook makes sense as a salary saving option.

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, 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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