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Divisional Round Daily Fantasy: Pivoting off the Parallels
By Jen Ryan

(Lineup Tool: http://www.footballdiehards.com/fantasyfootball/dailygames/Lineup-Generator.cfm)

As the season winds down it becomes increasingly difficult to find things to exploit when building a daily fantasy lineup. As I looked at this weekend’s slate I noticed a few quarterback parallels. Carson Palmer and Aaron Rodgers are eerily similar in the sense that Russell Wilson and Cam Newton are. These players will face each other in the divisional round. Palmer and Rodgers are aging, sort of old school pocket passers while Wilson and Newton are my favorite kind of quarterback, the mobile kind. Palmer and Rodgers are gunslingers in typically high-octane offenses. Wilson and Newton are true dual threats who can do as much damage with their legs as they can with their arm. They both have made superstars out of their somewhat average receivers. These fun parallels made it difficult for me to choose between these quarterbacks which led to me thinking elsewhere. Something is going on in New England right now with Rob Gronkowski. Julian Edelman is returning from a foot injury that we saw impede Dez Bryant in each game he has played in. Alex Smith could be a sneaky play but he could also be without Jeremy Maclin. This all brought me to Peyton Manning, the quarterback who I believed in back in Week 6 and the quarterback who completely burned me. I am giving him another shot and at $6,000 dollars against the 31st-ranked Steelers’ secondary, I figure why not? Below is the lineup I constructed anchored by Mr. Manning himself.

RB – Jonathan Stewart - $5,800
Stewart has had more than a month to rest and return to health. Not only do I expect him to be at full health but I expect him to resume his workhorse load of 20+ touches a game. I realize he will be running against the top-rated Seahawks’ run defense. Do you realize that in their first meeting he hit pay dirt twice while compiling 79 yards on 20 carries? I am not saying he is going to score two touchdowns this week but I am playing Stewart with confidence. I am curious to see what his ownership percentage will be but I am hopeful most of my competitors in the GPP I have this lineup in will be weary of him.

RB – James White - $5,200
I have White rostered due to his receiving contributions. He is much more effective through the air than he is on the ground and his big-play ability is through the roof. I cannot, and will not, expect to see a 100% Julian Edelman and I am paying attention to the reports of Rob Gronkowski dealing with a back injury as well as receiving a pain injection in his knee. White could be the X-factor on the Patriots offense this weekend and I love his chances of grabbing a receiving touchdown.

WR – Emmanuel Sanders - $5,800 and Demaryius Thomas - $7,000
I lumped the Broncos’ receivers together because I could not decide between one so I am going for broke with both of them. The matchup, as I mentioned, is a great one for both Sanders and Thomas. Their productivity will be contingent on Manning but if I am going to put blind faith in Manning I need to do the same for his receivers. Both have the upside to put up huge numbers against the Steelers’ this weekend. If we can see a glimpse of the juggernaut of the old days then I can project (or pray for) a few receptions, a bunch of yards, and a touchdown from both.

WR – Doug Baldwin - $6,800
It is nearly impossible to build a competitive lineup without including this touchdown machine. His second-half scoring blitz has been nothing short of incredible. To revisit my position on the parallels on this weekend’s slate, Baldwin is to Wilson what Ginn, Jr is to Newton. I went with Baldwin over Ginn simply because he is a better football player. I can bank on the 60-yard touchdown from Ginn or I can rely on the nearly-guaranteed touchdown from Baldwin. I also prefer his matchup to Ginn’s due to his mobility on the line. Baldwin from the slot could be absolute money.

TE – Greg Olsen - $6,900
The Seahawks’ defense has a weakness and it is the tight end position. The Panthers’ offense has a strength and it is the tight end position. Olsen is a no-brainer. I know I have written before that Olsen is Carolina’s defacto WR1 and it is a statement I stand behind. In their first meeting, Olsen turned seven receptions into 131 yards and a score. The Seahawks are the 23rd-ranked team against tight ends and have allowed eight touchdowns to the position. Olsen will make that nine in this divisional matchup.

Flex – Jared Abbrederis - $3,000
My receiver and tight end shopping spree forced me to go bargain shopping at my flex position but I actually feel pretty great about it. Abbrederis has an opportunity in front of him this weekend with Davante Adams likely out. The Packers are going to have to throw the ball a lot to stay in this game. This game has a 50 point over/under line with Arizona laying seven points. All Abbrederis needs is a few targets, especially in the red zone, and he could be the tournament play of the weekend.

DST – Patriots - $3,500
My logic behind rolling out the Patriots defense this weekend is refusing to shoot myself in the foot. I am going with the defense that is not up against any of my offensive players. It certainly helps that Jeremy Maclin has a real shot at missing this game. Alex Smith is prone to sacks and the Patriots defense can generate turnovers. I will need both of those to happen in order for the
Patriots to hit value.

I can spend hours in a sitting tinkering, second guessing myself, and swapping players out of my lineup. The clock is ticking on the opportunities I will have left to chase money on DraftKings. This lineup has some safe players and some bold players but overall I feel like it is a gutsy tournament roster with a lot of upside. My chances at success lie in the arm of Peyton Manning. I just need him to play the way I believe he can.