The NFC playoff picture continues to intrigue week to week as no one team is the clear cut favorite. The NFC South looks to put three teams in the playoffs, while the Eagles have already locked up the NFC East. It will be interesting to see how the team progresses with Nick Foles at QB. In the AFC, the AFC West is wide open with three teams in contention for it, with the Chargers and Chiefs tied atop the division at 7-6. Perhaps the game with the most playoff implications could be the Seahawks-Rams game as the two teams slug it out for divisional supremacy. Finally, good luck to all the teams in the fantasy playoffs as everyone is scouring the line for the players that will make the difference between a win and a loss. Hopefully, my final piece of the year will help.
Lions D/ST (vs CHI) $4600 FD – $3,400 DK: The Lions defense stands a solid chance versus the Bears offense on Saturday afternoon. The Bears need to establish the run, something they have yet to do, and the Lions should be able to capitalize on the Bears mistakes on offense. With big play propensity versus an offense that is known to allow points versus opposing defenses, look for this unit to put up a solid day.
Cardinals D/ST $4500 FD – $2,900 DK: The Cardinals defense should be in for a solid week versus a Redskins offense that is struggling to to keep it together. They are without their top two running-backs, so the Cardinals defense should be able to key in on the Redskins top RB in Semaje Perine and make life hell for Kirk Cousins and Co. There should be few other defenses that represent a nice top play this week in the fantasy playoffs. The Cardinals have playmakers on defense, and no one would be surprised if they had a defensive score this week.
Patriots D/ST $4400 FD – $2,500 DK: This could be one of the highest scoring games of the season. So why am I recommending this unit versus the Steelers this week? Because I see some big play ability in this unit, led by the linebacker unit that could surprise versus the Steelers offensive line. Durron Harmon leads the team in picks with three, and the Patriots defense will have their hands full with Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell and Co. It is a risky situation, but it will come down to which defense makes the plays that matter late, and something tells me it will be this unit.
Jarrad Davis (LB/DET)- Davis may be on a limited snap count, but he could still boast a nice tackle total versus the Bears. Although he seems to have struggled this season, he is a decent option with upside versus a Bears offense that struggles to move the ball at times. Look for Davis to remain hungry versus a Bears offense that lacks a true #1 receiver and is dependent upon the run game to muster yards and points.
Anthony Zettel (DT/DET)- Zettel could be the beneficiary of facing a Bears offense that can’t move the ball and is starting a rookie at QB. Trubisky has been sacked 23 times in nine games, meaning a solid defensive player could get through and take him down. Zettel has played solid defense this season and should be a sleeper for a sack this week versus a mediocre Bears offensive line.
Kyle Fuller (CB/CHI)- The Lions like to throw a ton, and without a respectable ground game, the corners of Chicago can be ready for an aerial assault. Fuller thrives on errant passes, and should any be made on Saturday, look for him to capitalize as he has respectable ball skills and underrated coverage skills. He may be high risk/reward, but he is worth gambling upon versus a pass heavy offense as he figures to record at least one or two passes defensed and a few tackles.
Budda Baker (S/ARZ)- Baker is quickly making a name for himself on the Cardinals defensive line as he is racking up stats right and left since becoming a starter four games ago. Versus a limited-run offense in Washington, Baker should be able to key in on Semaje Perine and the rest of the offense and make them pay for being one-dimensional. Baker is a playmaker, and will make the plays that count on Sunday.
Deone Bucannon (LB/ARZ)- Bucannon has been inconsistent this season, but that is due to injuries. Yes, he has multiple games of just a few fantasy points, but he also is capable of producing double digit fantasy scores. This week, versus the Redskins, look for him to remain aggressive and attack the line of scrimmage, leading to a sack and multiple tackles. He may be high risk/reward, but he has a promising track record of big gmes and is worth the gamble.
Patrick Chung (S/NE)- Versus a Steelers team that should be a very physical affair, Chung has value as a defender who should be busy all day. He has plus coverage skills, and although the Steelers are balanced on both receiving and rushing, Chung should be able to rack up some meaningful stats and be a decent scorer this week.
Stephon Gilmore (CB/NE)- Gilmore may be my risky play of the week, but versus the Steelers he has some upside as Pittsburgh will throw against any defense, and the Patriots secondary is solid. Look for Gilmore and Co., to be alert versus the Steelers and take advantage of any mistakes Roethlisberger makes.
Cameron Heyward (DE/PIT)- Heyward will look to continue his hot stats streak as the Steelers seek to keep their win streak versus the Patriots in Week 15. Heyward is an elite sack player and versus the high octane New England offense should remain such. He brings leadership and mental toughness versus an offense that can light it up at a moment’s notice. Yes, Tom Brady is an elite QB, but look for Heyward to keep the pressure on him as he seeks to contain Brady and limit his effectiveness.
Seahawks D/ST $4500 FD – $3,100 DK: Avoid the Seahawks D/ST versus the Rams, as the Rams will be out for retribution after losing 16-10 in Week 5 to the Seahawks. More than divisional supremacy could be on the line as the Seahawks and Rams are both jockeying to make the playoffs and prove to be the top of the NFC West. This will be a defensive struggle, but I would not trust the Seahawks D/ST this week because Jared Goff is quickly coming of age, and Todd Gurley has hit his stride lately, lending to a suspicion that the rams will put up some points versus a Seahawks defense without KJ Wright, a key cog on the defensive unit.