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Four-Down Duel: Beware the High-Priced Running Back

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.

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With only four teams in the field, this is a tough week to figure out which players to use in FanDuel matchups. An old trick most people know by now is to look at both the point spread and over/under for both games to help determine which fantasy players could be in for a big weekend. Hereís the current point spread and over/under total for each game:

New England -9.5 over Baltimore with an over/under of 51.5

San Francisco -5 over Atlanta with an over/under of 49

As you can see, players from the Patriots appear poised for another big weekend. That being said, the prices this week should help the players on other teams, especially considering the over/under totals arenít significantly different.

For this week Iím going to do something a little different; Iím going to post the lineup that Iíd use if entering a contest. Here's my lineup and the reasoning behind each pick:


Colin Kaepernick, SF, $8800 Ė Itís hard to argue with this pick since heís the third-lowest priced quarterback for the week. Last week he was the top producer in this fantasy format and should be in line for another big game. Kaepernickís record-setting game differentiates him from the other three quarterbacks this weekend since heís just as dangerous on the ground as he is through the air. Youíre likely saving a little money here as well so Iím comfortable making this pick.

Running Backs

Shane Vereen, NE, $7000 Ė Itís easy to peg a guy coming off a three-touchdown game, but when looking at the other options Vereen does seems to be a solid choice this week. If Danny Woodhead is unable to go, this will be an even better selection. While it would be nice to grab Ray Rice ($8800), you canít have elite players at every position. Vereen is considered the pass-catching running back in New England, which boosts his value in FanDuelís 0.5 PPR format. And I can see Brady taking advantage of this matchup if the Ravens put a linebacker on Vereen.

Michael Turner, ATL, $5600 Ė Iím not overly thrilled with this pick since Turner is almost a complete non-factor in the passing game, but the fact remains that he will be used at the goal line, which has led to a rushing touchdown in six of his last eight games. The 49ers rushing defense isnít as good as they were last season and using Turner at this price allows me to spend more salary on elite receivers.

Wide Receivers

Wes Welker, NE, $8100 Ė Over the last three weeks, Welker has scored 17.1, 19.4 and 18.8 points, showing his consistency in this format as a highly-targeted receiver. With Rob Gronkowski out, Tom Brady will look Welker's way a ton this weekend. Despite being the most expensive receiver once again this week, I think heís as good as anyone to return in value on his price tag.

Julio Jones, ATL, $7100 Ė Both Jones and Roddy White are priced the same this week, but Iíd give Jones the slight edge due to his higher upside. Also taken into consideration is that other FanDuel players might lean towards White since heís coming off the bigger game. Jones did get 10 targets last week and should see a similar number of looks again this week in the NFC Championship game. Heís more of a downfield threat than White, and even managed to catch more touchdown passes this season than White despite missing time due to injuries.

Torrey Smith, BAL, $5900 Ė Smith showed last week that he truly is the Ravensí No. 1 wide receiver. Heís always one play away from making a big fantasy impact for a FanDuel team. Smith will likely see more attention paid to him this week, but his matchup against a weak New England secondary is a good one. For his price, heís tough to pass up, especially when factoring in his big-play upside.

Tight End

Aaron Hernandez, NE, $6800 Ė In this spot last week I suggested ignoring the New England tight ends and going with the cheaper option in Tony Gonzalez. That worked out, as Gronkowski got hurt while Gonzalez found the end zone to out-produce both Patriots tight ends. This week is a different story, as I think the athletic linebackers from San Francisco will give Gonzalez more of a matchup problem. Brady and the Patriots enter the Baltimore game knowing Hernandez is the only tight end option, and he flourished while Gronkowski was out earlier this season.

Justin Tucker, BAL, $5300 Ė Tucker has gone 16-for-16 from inside 40 yards and 4-for-4 from 50 yard or more.The rookie had an extremely clutch kick last week to win the game for the Ravens, further proving that his solid play form the regular season wasn't a fluke. I think the Ravens will move the ball on the Patriots and if they can keep the game close Tucker should get a few field goal attempts.


San Francisco, $5300 Ė The Niners probably have the best remaining defense in the playoffs. While any team can get torched any week in the NFL, especially in the playoffs, the Niners' vast array of talented defensive players and an affordable price tag make them the best option. Matt Ryan should be good for at least one interception and the 49ers have as good of a shot as anyone to limit the opposing team to a small amount of points.

This lineup adds up to a grand total of $59,900 putting it $100 under the salary cap in standard leagues. Itís strong with the only running quarterback, three top wide receivers, an elite tight end and decent plays at kicker and defense. Running back is a little weak, but outside of Ray Rice and Frank Gore, itís tough to find any great values in the backfield this week. The Patriots have a very good run defense and over the past few weeks the Falcons run defense has been improved, which is why I skimped on spending at the position.