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Four-Down Duel: Backing the Bengals

Kevin Payne

Kevin Payne

Kevin has worked for Rotowire just under a decade and has covered basketball, baseball and football. A glutton for punishment, he roots for his hometown Bills, Sabres and the New York Yankees. He hosts the RotoWire SiriusXM show every Wednesday and Friday and you can follow him on Twitter @KCPayne26.

50/50 or Heads Up

In 50/50 or Heads-Up contests, you should aim for a lineup that has a higher floor over a higher ceiling. If you're in a 50/50 contest, the top half of all entries finishes in the money, meaning you don't have to pick a high-ceiling lineup that shoots for the moon. I build these lineups with the players I need regardless of their price while including my rationale.

Andy Dalton, CIN, $8700 – It’s funny that Dalton has quietly become a pretty safe option in weekly fantasy. He’s played much better at home this season than on the road with 20 of his 33 touchdown passes there. He’s cheaper than Nick Foles, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, but Dalton probably has the best matchup of the group.

Jamaal Charles, KC, $10200 – Here’s the most expensive player this week not named Drew Brees and for good reason. Charles has scored 11 touchdowns over his last five games and is well rested after sitting out last week. That’s what influenced my decision to go with him over LeSean McCoy -- Charles been a more consistent player with touchdowns. The Chiefs’ game plan should center on Charles and the weather isn’t going to be a factor.

Darren Sproles, NO, $4500 – I really wanted to fit Charles and McCoy together, but it was impossible to find other suitable options for the rest of my lineup. The decision became a little easier once the Saints announced Pierre Thomas would be out for their tilt against the Eagles. Thomas had 30 carries for 63 yards (2.1 YPC) over his last five games, so something wasn’t right health-wise. Sproles should be used heavily this week and should benefit more than Mark Ingram from the Thomas injury. In FanDuel’s 0.5 PPR format, I’d expect at least three to four points off catches in addition to the yardage and possible scoring opportunities.

A.J. Green, CIN, $8800 – As usual, I always try and match up my quarterback with his top receiving option. Green is the best overall receiving option this week and should get double-digit targets for the fourth straight game. I’m not worried about the Chargers’ secondary and expect a big game out of Green.

Marvin Jones, CIN, $5300 – I’m still looking for bargains and by using Jones, I’m pairing up my quarterback with another one of his wide receivers. Jones has quietly put together a 10-touchdown season and has scored in three of his last four games. The Chargers will give A.J. Green plenty of coverage, leaving Jones with a good matchup.

Griff Whalen, IND, $4900 – Whalen has really gone under the radar the last three weeks, scoring 12.5, 11.5 and 11.2 points in this format. He’s become Andrew Luck’s second or third favorite target during that span and has been playing with Luck since college. Using a cheap option that appears to have a nice floor allows me to take my next player.

Jimmy Graham, NO, $7600 – When you look at the landscape of tight ends this weekend, there’s Graham, Vernon Davis ($6400) and a bunch of lottery tickets. Comparing Graham’s salary to the other positions, I think he’s a must-start in this column. He’s scored in five of his last six games and should see around 10 targets this weekend.

Ryan Succop, KC, $5000 – Kickers are so hard to pick and Succop burned me a couple of weeks ago. That said, he’s the minimum price and kicking indoors.

Green Bay Packers Defense, $5000 – I needed a minimum-priced team and wasn’t going to take the Chargers with all of the Bengals I have listed above. The Packers are at home and the cold weather could actually help against a team not used to it. Going with the minimum here puts Charles, Graham and A.J. Green all on my team, a really strong trio to have.



Tournaments

For tournament lineups, you have to look at upside and use some "outside-the-box" picks if you want to cash. Remember, I probably wouldn't use this lineup completely as there is a lower floor here with a lot of players. A mix of studs with a few of the cheaper options listed below could net you the top overall prize.

Alex Smith, KC, $7500 – Smith is the ultimate pot-odds play here, as he probably has the least amount of fantasy potential out of all of the quarterbacks. Granted, he doesn’t have a 300-yard game on the season, but he has games of 287, 293 and 294 over his last five games. Before Week 16’s game, Smith had five straight games with at least two touchdown passes. He’s also pretty mobile and can pick up some extra fantasy points using his legs.

Giovani Bernard, CIN, $5900 – While I think the other Bengals are safer options, Bernard possesses a ton of upside. He consistently gets around 13 carries a game and should see a handful targets in the passing attack. It’s possible he breaks a long one for a touchdown and immediately pays off his low price.

Mark Ingram, NO, $4500 – As I already stated, I think Sproles is the safer play in the Saints’ backfield, but there’s a chance Ingram gets the majority of carries. He’s only a couple of weeks removed from 13 carries for 83 yards against the Panthers and will probably handle the goal-line work. Obviously, he’s a gamble but could pay off nicely, especially considering his price.

James Jones, GB, $5200 – Everyone will be on Jordy Nelson this weekend, and rightfully so after the game he had last week. For me, though, I think Jones is the tournament play this week. Jones has big-play potential and he’s always been a big red-zone target of Aaron Rodgers. Don’t worry about the cold, that shouldn’t affect the passing game.

Riley Cooper, PHI, $5500 – Cooper will probably be looked over this week with DeSean Jackson having such big-play potential. Cooper had a nice second-half of the season, which coincides with Nick Foles taking over as quarterback. This game should have plenty of points and Cooper as Foles’ second receiving option could be in for a big day.

Da’Rick Rogers, IND, $4800 – Rogers is a huge gamble this week, but he showed his potential Week 14 against the Bengals. Maybe this is the week the Colts abandon the running game and let Luck sling the ball around. Rogers has good size and speed, and he’ll benefit from the Chiefs focusing on T.Y. Hilton.

Brent Celek, PHI, $4500 – Despite the presence of Zach Ertz, Celek finished the regular season with five touchdowns, including one in each of the last two games. Most owners in tournaments are going to take either Jimmy Graham or Vernon Davis, making Celek an intriguing pick.

Adam Vinatieri, IND, $5700 – Even though I preach not spending on a kicker, I’m interested in Vinatieri because I think most will follow suit and go with a cheaper option. He’s at home and again the weather won’t be an issue.

Green Bay Defense, $5000 – As I alluded to earlier, I wonder if this game might be a little bit of a trap for the 49ers. The weather is going to be ridiculously cold and maybe that throws off the San Francisco offense.