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DFS Three And Out 2021 week 21
As we get deeper in the playoffs, the field narrow even further and it becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate. So, like it was last week, the object this week is to find three slightly-off schedule plays with reasonable price tags and some upside while acknowledging that every player is fair game. You'll likely find yourself using a wide range of them, perhaps even the one I'm out on this week. Heck, I might even end up with some shares of him in my lineups. Nonetheless, here are three players I'm focused on this Sunday with one I'm slightly less focused on.
Jerick McKinnon, RB, Kansas City Chiefs ($5,100 on DraftKings; $6,200 on FanDuel)
As SI.com's Jennifer Piacenti noted, McKinnon is likely the best value among running backs this week. And from a tournament perspective, he also has considerable upside. Yes, Clyde Edwards-Helaire returned last week, seeing his first action since injuring his collarbone on Dec. 26. And he was impressive enough, running seven times for 60 yards -- more than 8 1/2 yards per carry -- while adding a nifty catch out of the backfield. Still, McKinnon outsnapped Edwards-Helaire by a 50-23 margin in the win over Buffalo. McKinnon ran 10 times for just 24 yards against the Bills, but also had five catches for another 54 yards. Am I concerned that Darrel Williams, who was inactive last week with a bothersome toe, returns this week? A little. That said, McKinnon has been on the field for 101 of 147 postseason running back snaps. ESPN.com's Al Zeidenfeld cites the speedy veteran's pass-catching skills and amazing ability to make tacklers miss in the open field as being major factors in McKinnon racking up 85 rushing yards and 11 catches for 135 receiving yards and a score in his two playoff appearances. Better still, Piacenti notes the Bengals have allowed 18.3 fantasy points per game against RBs just in the postseason and an average of 24.6 points per game across their last four games played. Adding to that, Zeidenfeld reminded readers the Bengals allow a touchdown on 22.6 percent of red-zone carries -- worse than even the Jaguars and the Jets. Edwards-Helaire isn't going away and Williams will likely be available, but I'm interested in play-making ability and McKinnon offers some bang for the buck.
Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals ($5,700 on DraftKings; $6,400 on FanDuel)
I love Ja'Marr Chase. He's fantastic and his postseason run has been remarkable. He's also reasonably priced. But if you're looking to differentiate and/or need an even better-priced alternative, don't overlook Higgins. As Awesemo.com's Matt Gajewski notes, far cheaper ($1,000 less on DraftKings and $1,600 less on FanDuel) than Chase, Higgins continues to provide a similar ceiling in Cincinnati's offense. Gajewski went on to explain that, on the year, Higgins has a 23.9 percent target share and a 35 percent air yards share. For reference, Chase has a 23.7 percent target share and a 37.2 percent air yards share. According to Piacenti, Higgins is averaging 9.9 yards per target with an average depth of target of 11.9 yards along with a 67.3 percent catch rate. Higgins has seen the ball thrown his way 11 times in the red zone this season, 18.3 percent of his team's 60 red zone pass attempts. Meanwhile, the 263.6 passing yards the Chiefs give up per game makes them the NFL's 25th-ranked pass defense this season. They also rank 16th in the NFL in conceding 1.6 passing touchdowns per game. Gajewski added, "With Kansas City banged up in the secondary, defending Higgins, Chase and even Tyler Boyd creates a unique problem. But expecting Kansas City to focus their attention on slowing Chase seems reasonable.
C.J. Uzomah, TE, Cincinnati Bengals ($3,400 on DraftKings; $5,600 on FanDuel)
Did I mention Kansas City's defense ranks 25th in the league against the pass? And that they'll have their hands full with wideouts Chase, Higgins and Boyd? If you're looking for a cheap, off-schedule option at tight end (and all four starters this weekend are great plays), then go with the cheapest of the starters. Remember, Uzomah has at least six targets in four straight games for Cincinnati and his target share over the final three regular-season games matched Boyd's. Uzomah has also delivered a touchdown catch four times this season, out of 19 games played, but he had multiple TD receptions twice. So if you're avoiding the Travis Kelce and George Kittle premium pricing -- and/or your investment in the Rams prompts you to pivot away from Tyler Higbee -- Uzomah is plenty viable thanks to a generous Chiefs' pass defense in a game with an over/under of 53.5 points.
Cam Akers, RB, Los Angeles Rams ($5,000 on DraftKings; $6,200 on FanDuel)Make no mistake: Akers is back. Despite missing most of the season with the Achilles tear, Akers took 24 of the Rams' 26 handoffs in Tampa Sunday, with Sony Michel seeing just a single carry. The Rams' run game went nowhere against the stingy Bucs front. Akers averaged just 2.0 yards per carry on his 24 carries, netting 48 yards with a long run of nine. Still, head coach Sean McVay continually called the runs -- particularly on first-and-10 -- with a big lead. But the conservative approach nearly cost the Rams. In addition, Akers had a pair of costly fumbles against the Bucs. While head coach Sean McVay insists a pair of fumbles in Tampa won't keep him from leaning on Akers, they have to be a concern. Also a concern? Those 24 carries. Is Akers really ready to resume a featured role on a weekly basis after two games? As Piacenti put it, "Because of those ball security issues, I am willing to gamble in a GPP that McVay may give Sony Michel a few more opportunities this week." Akers is still a great cash play, but I'm not as eager to roll him out in tournaments.