With the rise in popularity of daily fantasy sports, the discussion and dissection of NFL skill players continues beyond Week 17 and into the postseason. Saturday's divisional-round slate features two contests with plenty of fantasy football studs to choose from.
First, the perennial contenders that are the New England Patriots play host to the Kansas City Chiefs, who are looking to extend an 11-game unbeaten streak. In the later contest, it's the Green Bay Packers hitting the road to play the Arizona Cardinals. The Pack are looking to avenge a 38-8 drubbing at the hands of the Cardinals in Week 16.
Here's a look at the latest Vegas odds for Saturday's games, followed by a rundown of the players in good position to deliver fantasy football fortune.
|Time (ET)||Away||Home||Over-Under||TV||Live Stream|
|4:35 p.m. ET||Kansas City Chiefs||New England Patriots (-4.5)||43||CBS||CBSSports.com|
|8:15 p.m ET||Green Bay Packers||Arizona Cardinals (-7)||49.5||NBC||NBC Sports Live Extra|
Note: Odds courtesy of Odds Shark and updated as of 11 a.m ET on Saturday, January 16.
Top Fantasy Picks at Each Skill Position
Quarterback: Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
Carson Palmer has an embarrassment of riches surrounding him on offense, so it's little wonder he's enjoyed such a fine season at the relatively ripe age of 36. With Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, John Brown and a stalwart rookie running back in David Johnson, this Palmer guy has it made.
Palmer has thrown at least two touchdown passes in seven of his last 10 games and has racked up at least 250 passing yards in nine of them. That one game he didn't was in Week 17 against the Seattle Seahawks, in which Palmer played just one half of football.
Palmer was solid if unspectacular against Green Bay in Week 16 (265 passing yards, 2 TD, 1 INT), but the Cardinals had a 17-0 lead by halftime in that game and outscored Green Bay 21-8 in the third quarter. There likely won't be another blowout on Saturday, so don't expect an extended Drew Stanton cameo to cut into Palmer's production.
Running Back: David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
As the only running back on Saturday not working from a committee, David Johnson is the best fantasy football option as far as who has the best chance of turning in a big performance.
Owing to the blowout nature of the game, Johnson didn't get much work in Week 16 against the Packers. He was effective with limited touches, carrying the ball nine times for 43 yards and a score while adding another 88 yards receiving.
Legendary running back Marshall Faulk, who knows a thing or two about all-purpose production, had this to say about Johnson's Week 16 performance, per the NFL Network:
NFL Network @nflnetwork
“David Johnson ran the ball against GB like they weren’t even playing defense. It wasn’t even fair” - @marshallfaulk https://t.co/4ZVn29Hjo81/11/2016, 2:26:14 AM
The Packers should put up a better fight on Saturday, so expect more carries from Johnson early on while still getting his requisite handful of targets in the passing game. Defenses facing the Cardinals must contend with three excellent wide receivers. Johnson is a good bet to pick up plenty of yards after the catch on underneath routes.
Plus, if there's any position that could benefit from a week of rest, it has to be running backs. The Cardinals got a week off by virtue of earning the second seed in the NFC, meaning Johnson should be raring to take chunks out of a Packers defense that has allowed 4.15 yards per carry this season.
Wide Receiver: Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
Green Bay's James Jones, or pretty much any one of Arizona's receivers, might be the fantasy flavor of the week for some, but there's a good chance Julian Edelman comes back in a big way for New England on Saturday.
For one, he's not going to gingerly work his way back into the game. Oh no. Edelman plans on pushing the limits when he suits up for the first time since Week 10.
“I want to go full throttle regardless,” Edelman said, per Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal. “So, if it goes, it goes.”
When Edelman's in the lineup, the offense just works. He produces. Edelman racked up 61 catches for 692 yards and seven touchdowns in nine games. He's also in line to be the focal point of the Patriots attack. Tight end Rob Gronkowski is dealing with a nagging knee injury and "is expected to try to play through a good amount of pain and might even be limited" against the Chiefs, per the Boston Herald's Jeff Howe.
Howe also rather boldly predicted Edelman will have a big day against one of the league's top corners:
Jeff Howe @jeffphowe
Been watching a ton of Chiefs film: Julian Edelman is gonna roast Marcus Peters.1/12/2016, 7:00:34 PM
The Patriots offense can also try to keep Edelman away from Marcus Peters by working him from the slot. In any case, Edelman is Tom Brady's best hope for a big game and a win on Saturday. He's going to see plenty of targets.
Tight End: Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
In most weeks, Gronkowski would be the tight end pick—and a no-brainer at that. But considering his knee issues, Kansas City's Travis Kelce is the safer bet to put up big numbers.
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid told reporters, per the team's official site, on Thursday that wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is a game-time decision for Saturday. Whether he's out or limited, this means Alex Smith is going to have to lean on the running game and his next best receiving option in Kelce to keep the chains moving against New England.
Kelce is coming off a fantastic performance in the wild-card round against the Houston Texans, racking up eight receptions for 128 yards. Kelce is likely going to need a big number of targets to produce as he's only scored five times this year.
Green Bay's Richard Rodgers has eight on the season, but he's a highly volatile player, with a maximum of two receptions in his last five games. Arizona's Darren Fells and Jermaine Gresham are unlikely to have notable fantasy performances.
Gronk is always the favorite, but if you doubt his health, roll with Kelce on Saturday.