Last week I did pretty good with the Dennis Pitta, Joe Flacco and DuJuan Harris but struck out with Torrey Smith. This week should have some more fireworks as the high-powered offenses of four teams that were on bye last week should equate to fantasy gold. Again, looking at the players I highlight is about finding value. Anyone can recommend Tom Brady, Arian Foster or Andre Johnson, but finding players at cheap prices that can provide fantasy points to match up with these studs is the key to winning.
Matt Schaub, HOU, $7100 – Schaub is tied with Joe Flacco this week as the cheapest quarterback but the Texans quarterback gets the nod here. I understand that taking Schaub is a hard pill to swallow considering he has a 1:4 TD:INT ratio over his last five games. One of those games included a dud against the Patriots when he had a 19.1 quarterback rating. However, there are a few things working in Schaub’s favor. During the first meeting Schaub had a 7.25 YPA, which isn’t that bad. The Patriots weakness on defense is their secondary, as their run defense has only allowed 3.9 YPC this season. If Houston falls behind early as many expect, Schaub should have to throw a lot and not sit out most of the fourth quarter like he did the first time around. If you decide to go the route of playing Schaub, it would probably be a good idea to go “all in” and pair him up with Andre Johnson.
Knowshon Moreno, DEN, $6600 – Moreno has been the darling of the fantasy community for weeks, putting together four straight solid fantasy games. With Willis McGahee still out for at least another week, Moreno will once again be the workhorse for the Broncos. Moreno has had at least four catches in four of his six games since making his return, which gives him added value in FanDuel’s 0.5 PPR format. The Denver offense has scored 30 points or more in eight of their last 10 games since their bye week. With the starting running back job for an explosive offense, Moreno has a lot of value, especially for his cheap price tag.
Stevan Ridley, NE, $6900 – I know that Ridley doesn’t catch many passes, but what he lacks in receptions he’s made up with scoring touchdowns this season. In fact, Ridley has scored a touchdown in seven of his last nine games as the main ball carrier for New England. While the New England backfield is always a crapshoot for touches, if the game goes as expected and the Patriots roll, Ridley could be in line for around 20 carries.
Michael Crabtree, SF, $6900 – Crabtree isn’t that much of a value considering he’s the sixth most expensive wide receiver this week. However, I think most fantasy players are going to be enthralled with the duo in Denver and Wes Welker when it comes to wide receiver. I think Crabtree is still flying under the radar when you take a look at what he’s done lately. Over his last five games Crabtree has 33.2, 8.5, 26.2, 13.8 and 13.6 points, showing both a solid floor and high ceiling. Colin Kaepernick has targeted Crabtree over 11 times on average over those five games, showing he’s his favorite target.
Brandon Lloyd, NE, $5800 – While many will use Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski this week, don’t forget about Lloyd. Looking past a meaningless game Week 17 against Miami, Lloyd had played a big role in the offense over the previous three games recording 9.2, 24.0 and 18.4 points. The game when he tallied 18.4 points was against Houston, so the track record is there for Lloyd having success against the Texans. Over those three games, Lloyd had 37 targets from Tom Brady, as the two have finally shown some chemistry together. In tournament formats, I’d go back to the Torrey Smith ($5200) as well since I don’t think many are going to roster him.
Tony Gonzalez, ATL, $5600 – I think most people will go after Aaron Hernandez ($6200) or Rob Gronkowski ($7100), which is why I think Gonzalez is the play here. He’s the same price as Owen Daniels and the difference in price between the other tight ends is negligible. The Falcons had an extra week of rest and have home field advantage for their matchup with Seattle. Matt Ryan could be looking to Gonzalez often with Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman shadowing Roddy White and Julio Jones on the outside.
Stephen Gostkowski, NE, $5100 – The Houston/New England matchup has the highest over/under total of the four weekend games. Plus, the Patriots are heavy favorites, which bodes well for Gostkowski. He’s hit eight of his last nine field goals and is 11-for-15 from 40 yards and beyond for the season. Just make sure Steven Hauschka isn’t in your lineup; the Seahawks placed him on IR this week.