The conclusion of the 2018-2019 Fantasy Football Season ends with the Rams and Patriots in Atlanta. Before I get to my analysis on each team, I want to explain and show you something I have done this season with Showdown Slates.
2018 Showdown Slate Breakdowns
I may write a more in-depth article about this in the offseason, but I did track showdown slate contests for the entire season. I only used the last game played on a given day (EX: In Week One, there were two Monday Night games. I only used the Raiders-Rams game for that day). I focused on the $10, 150-entry max (or equivalent) contest, since it's the biggest field and one that had the most attention on DraftKings. I am attaching a link to the spreadsheet that I tracked everything in.
There are two tabs: Roster Construction and Scoring & Ownership. For each game, you will be able to look at the players chosen, salaries, home vs road teams, final scores, points scored, ownership, # of winners, and amount of salary used. I hope you find it useful and perhaps help you in setting lineups for the final showdown slate of the season. If you have any questions about it, feel free to contact me on Twitter @skeeterrobinson
In the regular season, the Rams were 28th in DVOA vs the Rush and 9th vs the Pass. Against Individual Positions, the Rams were 6th against WR1, 3rd against WR2, 22nd against Other WRs, 19th against TEs, and 26th against Pass-Catching RBs.
The Rams have given up 3 total touchdown passes in the two playoff games. Tom Brady (10,600) has only thrown for multiple touchdowns three times since the team's bye week, and hasn't thrown for multiple touchdowns in either playoff game. However, he did go for over 350 yards in each of those games, and in the past 4 Super Bowls, has thrown for 2+ touchdowns. I think he's an ok play, but I'm not sure you must use him with the way the Rams defense has been playing since Talib has returned, and their reliance on the run game in the red zone. As is typical Patriots, the running game is tough to figure out who will have the big game. Adding to the toughness is the Rams have been quite good against the run in the two playoff games, giving up 2.3 yards per carry in each playoff game (against Ezekiel Elliott, Alvin Kamara, and Mark Ingram). Sony Michel (6,800) has the best matchup on paper against the Rams run defense, and has seen 20+ carries and 100+ rushing yards in each playoff game with 5 total touchdowns. I do wonder how many people are going to realize how good the Rams run defense has been this postseason. The fact he doesn't catch passes out of the backfield may limit his ownership. On SiriusXM, our own Lou Blasi (who lives in the Boston area) has theorized that the Patriots have saved certain players for a particular game. James White (7,200) hasn't seen the end zone yet this postseason and maybe will be the touchdown guy this time around. He has seen 6 carries and 19 receptions in those two postseason games, while scoring 4 touchdowns in the past two Super Bowls (3 vs Atlanta, 1 vs Philadelphia). He feels very underpriced for his pass-catching role. I really don't even mind a White/Michel combo and take most of the Patriots RB touches. I say most because Rex Burkhead (4,800) did have 2 TD vs KC and 12 carries. He will have a role and while the price is not bad, I feel like we may be chasing last game a little bit by using him.
Julian Edelman (10,800) is the most expensive player but has some trends we like to see for the highest priced player. He has seen double-digit targets in five of his past six games, including both playoff games. He also has eleven straight postseason games with double-digit targets, with his fewest receptions being five vs Atlanta two years ago. While he lacks the touchdown upside we usually want, his floor is so high that he should get close to 2x his salary (21.6) with upside for more. After a quiet few weeks, we saw Rob Gronkowski (6,000) play all the snaps in the AFC Championship and saw 11 targets. Yet, he still only had 13.2 points. But, he has had a good history of getting touchdowns and targets in Super Bowls. I wish he was a little cheaper, but I'm fine if you want to go here. Chris Hogan (3,800) has been seeing a recent uptick in targets, but isn't doing much with them. Phillip Dorsett (4,200) is getting priced up due to him getting a touchdown in each of the last three games. Both him and Hogan draw the toughest matchups against Talib and Peters, and are guys I don't see being included in my core. Cordarrelle Patterson (1,600) isn't seeing many touches but is always a touchdown threat, so not a bad punt play if playing multiple lineups. If you are trying to win the Million Dollar first prize, you may have to get really weird with one lineup spot. You would have to risk a zero, but James Develin (400) and Dwayne Allen (600) are both players who have some chance at a goal line touchdown. I'm avoiding the Patriots Defense (2,800) though they do have some upside on sacks and interceptions. Stephen Gostkowski (3,200) has been around 8-10 fantasy points recently. In a dome, and the Rams defense playing better, I don't mind using him as a salary saver, and if he gets to 10+ points, he may appear in the winning lineup.
Possible Captains: James White, Julian Edelman, Sony Michel, Tom Brady
In the Regular Season, the Patriots was ranked 19th in DVOA vs the Rush and 14th vs the Pass. Against individual positions, the Patriots were 16th against WR1, 12th against WR2, 4th against Other WRs, 8th against TE, and 22nd against Pass-Catching RBs.
I feel like the Rams are a little more "predictable" than the Patriots. Jared Goff (10,000) has struggled away from L.A. and struggled since the bye week. The Patriots have allowed multiple touchdowns to both Rivers and Mahomes in the playoffs, but I'm not sure I see a shootout coming. I prefer Brady to Goff (as I think everyone will), making Goff a mulit-entry play. On the Sunday Fantistics show (January 27), Lou, Michael, and I discussed potential game flows for the Rams. Michael and I both thought that no matter the game flow, Todd Gurley (9,000) would benefit from any type of game flow. With two weeks to recover from his injury and with no other games until September means we should see a lot of Gurley. Even if the Rams get behind, Gurley does have games of 7 and 13 targets this season; both in games the Rams had to try and play catch-up in. Gurley's injury may also mean lower ownership and increased ownership on C.J. Anderson (5,200) who had his first bad game as a Ram against the Saints. He still should see some touches, but the risk of Gurley being 100% makes him too expensive of a play and only worth playing in multiple lineups.
I will have interest in the two main receivers: Brandin Cooks (8,200) and Robert Woods (7,800). Cooks did go for over 100 yards in both games against the Saints; a revenge game narrative for him there. Same thing this week, as he was traded from the Patriots in the last offseason. The worry here is that the Patriots do the same thing they did to Tyreek Hill last week: Bracket coverage him and not let Cooks beat them. Woods feels like the better play to me here, coming from the slot where he has seen six catches in each playoff game on targets of 8 and 10, respectively. Both Woods and Cooks don't find the end zone often, limiting their upside and making them players you don't have to have. I think one of them has a nice game, and I am leaning Woods. Though getting to 13 points last game, Josh Reynolds (5,400) feels too expensive for me. He has five touchdowns on the season, coming in three games. All three of those games: at home. It seems like him and Goff could be correlated a little bit with the home/road splits so I don't see myself using him. With all of the expected attention going towards Cooks and Woods, there may be some value with the tight ends. Tyler Higbee (2,200) and Gerald Everett (2,000) both have three TDs on the season, with Higbee being more productive in the playoffs. But, Everett did outsnap Higbee 47 to 39 against the Saints. I would definitely include both in your multi-entry pool, as they provide a lot of value with good TD upside. Tom Brady has only been sacked 21 times all year, and doesn't turn the ball over much. That means no interest for me in the Rams Defense (3,000). Greg Zuerlein (3,400) could be an interesting case, as he was injured in the NFC Championship. However, he is expected to go and there aren't any worries from the Rams. He's been in double-digits the past three games, and has a very strong leg, giving him 50+ yard FG upside. He's my preferred kicker in this range.
Possible Captains: Todd Gurley, Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks
I think this is an underrated discussion point, as many people will throw some lineups into the $10 contest that pays $1 million to first. The likelyhood of a solo million dollar winner is slim. If going for this, you will want to leave a lot of salary on the table (2,000 minimum, but probably more). Also, plays like Develin, Allen, and the defenses would be potential low-owned plays that are likely to not come through, but have a small chance to be in the winning lineup. There will be a lot of players throwing in all 150 entries too, so you need to be mindful of similar lineups. Finally, the payout structure up top is steep, with 2nd only getting 100k, and 10th getting 10k. Those are major drops in price, as this is not an ideal price structure. If you want better payout structures and chance to win, consider single-entries, 3-entry max, and 20-entry contests. You won't win a million, but your chance at getting a big score will be much better.
Good luck in your contests and check back this week for updates, if I have any to include.