News & Analysis

Conference Championship DFS locks of the week

By Tyler Loechner
Jan 17, 2018

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GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 24: Adam Thielen #19 of the Minnesota Vikings leaps over Quinten Rollins #24 of the Green Bay Packers in the third quarter at Lambeau Field on December 24, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

The final four teams are ready to square off with a Super Bowl berth on the line, and for us DFSers, it’s the last semi “normal” week until the start of next season.

Here’s the list of players you can lock into your Conference Championship DFS lineups.

Note: There’s always a case to be made for playing any player in tournaments. This list of “locks” is cash game focused, but I typically like these players across all contest types.

Quarterbacks

Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars

During the 2017-2018 NFL season, the Patriots gave up the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. The other three defenses playing this weekend (Jacksonville, Philadelphia, and Minnesota) were all bottom-10 fantasy matchups for opposing quarterbacks. Bortles is only $5,000 on DraftKings, meaning he would only need 15 points to exceed value on that site. He has surpassed that mark in 10 of his past 12 games. He’s also only $7,600 on FanDuel and is on the same 10-out-of-12 game streak in terms of exceeding value at that price.

Running backs

Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars

Fournette is the premiere running back of the slate. With 20 touches a lock and 25-plus touches likely, his volume should be unrivaled this weekend. The Jaguars are currently nine-point underdogs, so game flow could be a concern, but Jacksonville will likely want to keep the ball out of Tom Brady’s hands as much as possible, which means a healthy dose of Fournette for as long as possible. Even if the game does get out of hand, Fournette sees healthy work out of the backfield. He has at least 70 yards from scrimmage in 12 of his 15 games played this year, including each of the past six. He has 10 games with at least one touchdown, compared to only five games without. He’s easily the top running back of the slate.

Dion Lewis, New England Patriots

James White and Brandon Bolden scored the touchdowns, but Lewis was a star for the fourth straight week and a superstar for the third straight. Lewis has seen his target totals rise of the past month: 2-5-7-10, and he very nearly had multiple touchdowns again against the Titans. If Rex Burkhead sits again, Lewis becomes the top running back of the slate. If Burkhead is a go, Lewis is still a good play; it’s hard to see New England getting away from his hot hand. He averaged just under 5.0 YPC this year and will see continued (valuable) work this weekend via the air.

Wide receivers

Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings

Stefon Diggs obviously stole the show with the Minneapolis Miracle to close the game last weekend, but prior to that miracle play, Thielen had more receptions and yards than Diggs on the day (with as many targets). Philadelphia easily has the weakest secondary of all remaining teams, and the Vikings have the second-most-competent quarterback left. Thielen (and you could include Diggs, too) should dust the Eagles secondary.

Danny Amendola, New England Patriots

Amendola’s big game last week wasn’t all that surprising — but a 13-target performance was more than anticipated. It’s obvious that Brady trusts his underneath slot men in big games, and the matchup against Jacksonville is the exact type of game in which Amendola should be heavily utilized. He saw a deserved price bump on both sites, but still not enough to keep us away. A.J. Bouye allowed only 47 percent of passes thrown his way to be caught this year, and Jalen Ramsey gave up just 51 percent. Jacksonville’s Aaron Colvin gave up a 73 percent catch rate from the slot. There really isn’t a weakness in this Jacksonville secondary, but New England figures to play the percentages, which means more Amendola is coming our way.

Tight ends

Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots

Gronkowski is easily the best tight end play of the week, but you already knew that.

Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings

Even though his final stat line doesn’t necessarily show it (5-28-0), Rudolph was resurrected last week with eight targets — the most he’s seen in a game since mid-October. He’s much, much cheaper than Gronkowski and notably cheaper than Zach Ertz, which is significant, because Rudolph is arguably a better play that Ertz this week even if they were the same price.

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