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Fanball Fantasy Football: Conference Championship Picks

Sasha Yodashkin

Sasha Yodashkin writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Sunday's championship game slate offers the last chance for daily owners to dominate the competition this season. The Fanball format calls for a QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, TE, FLEX WR/TE, FLEX RB/WR/TE, D/ST lineup with a $55,000 salary cap. The players below can fit into lineups regardless of strategy, as they all offer strong value relative to price.

QUARTERBACK

Case Keenum, MIN at PHI ($7,300):
The Minnesota and Jacksonville defenses ranked as the top two units in terms of both points and passing yards allowed per game, so it's best to avoid them when picking fantasy quarterbacks. Keenum gets to face an Eagles defense that finished the regular season a pedestrian 17th defending the pass, and he has the weapons to exploit this matchup with playmakers to throw to at wide receiver, tight end and running back. Philadelphia's league-high performance against the run also suggests Keenum will have to bear the majority of the Vikings' offensive load.

Blake Bortles, JAC at NE ($5,800):
Bortles is the other quarterback avoiding a top-two defense, and his affordability and rushing contributions should allow him to produce strong value despite Jacksonville's tendency to rely on defense and the running game. His career average of 6.3 yards per rushing attempt would rank third in NFL history behind Michael Vick (7.0) and Randall Cunningham (6.4), and Bortles doesn't shy away from that aspect of the game with more than 50 rushes in each of his first four NFL seasons. New England's pass defense is also the worst remaining unit yardage-wise, ranking 30th with 251.3 aerial yards surrendered per game in the regular season.

RUNNING BACK

James White, NE vs. JAC ($5,800):
Dion Lewis is the primary early down back in New England, but he costs an exorbitant $8,700. White features mostly on passing downs, which is a fine role for Fanball's PPR format, especially given his prominent involvement near the goal line. The Super Bowl hero's nose for the end zone was once again on display in the divisional round win over the Titans, as he scored short touchdowns via both the ground and the air. If New England's offense works its way into scoring position against this tough Jaguars defense, White's more likely to score than any Patriots running back.

Jay Ajayi, PHI vs. MIN ($6,400):
While Ajayi didn't get into the end zone last week, he was clearly Philadelphia's best running back, as he gained 35 more rushing yards than LeGarrette Blount on six extra carries and finished second on the team in receiving yards behind wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. Ajayi remains underpriced given his role and talent, and he makes as much sense as any member of Philadelphia's offense to use against the superb Vikings defense.

T.J. Yeldon, JAC at NE ($4,800):
Owners looking to hit a home run with a low-cost running back should give Yeldon serious consideration. The third-down back returned tremendous value in last week's win over the Steelers, as he finished with a team-high 57 receiving yards and scored a rushing touchdown. A Patriots defense that's played its best football of the season lately should force plenty of third-down situations against this Bortles-led passing attack, so Yeldon figures to see a few checkdowns thrown his way while serving as an important change-of-pace option on the ground. At this price, he just needs to break off one big scoring play to pay off.

WIDE RECEIVER

Stefon Diggs, MIN at PHI ($7,800):
It's hard not to recommend last week's hero, as Diggs is coming off a 137-yard performance, including the game-winning 61-yard touchdown. He remains $500 cheaper than teammate Adam Thielen, which gives the University of Maryland product the slight edge between the two similar fantasy commodities. Philadelphia's pass defense is beatable, and Diggs certainly has the ability to beat it after what we just saw from him.

Danny Amendola, NE vs. JAC ($6,300):
Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan are both more explosive wide receivers, but Amendola's reliability should come up huge considering the vaunted Jaguars pass rush should consistently force Tom Brady to get the ball out of his hands quickly. Working primarily in the slot should also allow Amendola to stay away from Jacksonville's pair of Pro Bowl cornerbacks, and he just showed how dangerous he can be on the underneath routes against the Titans, even magically freezing time with one second left in the half on one reception en route to an 11-catch, 112-yard performance.

Alshon Jeffery, PHI vs. MIN ($5,700):
Jeffery led the Eagles with 61 receiving yards in the divisional round and should once again serve as Nick Foles' favorite target on the outside. Top Minnesota cornerback Xavier Rhodes likely will spend much of his time on Jeffery, but Rhodes' presence didn't stop Saints WR1 Michael Thomas from racking up 85 yards and two touchdowns on seven receptions last week. Considering Jeffery's 6-foot-3, 216-pound frame also makes him a powerful red-zone presence, he's well worth a look at just $5,700.

TIGHT END

Rob Gronkowski, NE vs. JAC ($8,400):
Gronkowski's physicality makes him tough to cover for even the most adept of defenses, and he should frequently serve as a security blanket for Tom Brady against a defense that's adept at creating pressure on the quarterback. He won't come cheap, but it's worth paying up for a player with a great chance of being the most productive receiver in this slate regardless of position.

Kyle Rudolph, MIN at PHI ($5,200):
Rudolph is the cheapest of the top three tight ends, and there's a major drop in production after him with no option priced below him averaging more than 6.1 fantasy points per game. Owners unwilling to pay up for Gronkowski or Zach Ertz ($6,300) should feel comfortable locking in Rudolph, who has five touchdowns in his last seven games and caught five balls against the Saints.

DEFENSE

New England Patriots, NE vs. JAC ($3,700):
Only $500 separates the most expensive defense from the cheapest, so price isn't much of a factor at the position. New England's late-season surge allowed the Patriots to finish fifth in scoring defense (18.5 points allowed per game) while the Jaguars offense certainly carries the most risk of any remaining unit, especially on the road. This unit has held up in the postseason many times before, and it helps that they never have to face the explosive New England offense.

Minnesota Vikings, MIN at PHI ($3,800):
Minnesota allowed a league-low 15.8 points per game this season, and even getting that many will be a tall order for an Eagles offense that's looked much less threatening since downgrading from Carson Wentz (knee) to Foles. This is an incredibly safe pick given the alternatives, as the Jaguars-Patriots game could end up mirroring last week's high-scoring Jags-Steelers game while the Philadelphia defense will have its hands full with Minnesota's multifaceted offense.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Sasha Yodashkin plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: Youngsash, DraftKings: Yashdogg,Yahoo: Sasha, Fanball: Yashdogg.
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