This is the last week of the season and the last time we’ll have a full 16-game slate. Sure there are playoff cash games to play, but with a smaller number of teams it’s harder to have an advantage. Therefore, I don’t recommend playing cash games during the NFL playoffs, or greatly reducing the number of cash games you do play.
With this being the last week of the season, it also means that players on teams with hopes for the playoffs will be the players we want to be targeting. Meaningless games are ones we’re going to want to stay away from unless you have a good read on a guy that will be getting more playing time because his team wants to take an extra look at him in a real game situation. This situation would be sort of like the preseason in that way.
By my count there are five meaningless games where both teams have already been eliminated from the playoffs or one of the teams has locked in its playoff seed (Washington) and has no reason to play their starters for the full game. Those games are: New Orleans at Atlanta, Washington at Dallas, Detroit at Chicago, Philadelphia at New York Giants, and St. Louis at San Francisco. I would stay away from any of the primary players on these teams this week.
On the flip side, there are twelve teams that need to win to lock in either a first round bye, home field throughout the playoffs, a division title, a wildcard, or have a chance at a wildcard. Those twelve teams are: New England, Denver, Cincinnati, Houston, Kansas City, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Carolina, Arizona, Green Bay, and Minnesota. I have also checked, and no team here will know the results of a team that could affect their playoff seed/chances before their game starts. Unless I have a good read on a cheap player wanting to prove himself for next year, I’ll be rostering guys from these twelve teams in my cash games this week.
Ben Roethlisberger ($6900) will be motivated to play hard with the Steelers trying to make the playoffs. He’s also playing a Browns team that is motivated to lose to try to secure the number one overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft. Cleveland has given up multiple passing touchdowns in seven of their last eight games. When Big Ben played the Browns earlier this year he had 379 passing yards and three touchdowns. I wouldn’t be surprised to see something similar.
Aaron Rodgers ($6800) likes to play in Lambeau Field in the cold. He is 50-12 for his career in Green Bay. When playing in December he averages two passing touchdowns a game. Rodgers’ price has been dropping all year. It is very clear that this year hasn’t been the same without Jordy Nelson around. Despite that, Green Bay is in the playoffs and has a chance for the division. All they have to do is beat the Vikings in Green Bay. I see Rodgers playing extra hard for this one and the fact that Minnesota has a good defense doesn’t scare me at all. Rodgers had four touchdowns against Carolina and five against Kansas City. All signs are pointing towards Rodgers having a very good day.
Carson Palmer ($6500) has been the most solid quarterback all year. This week isn’t going to change that. Playing against a Seattle team that has nothing to play for while the Cardinals are playing for a chance at home field through the playoffs (Carolina has to lose) makes me like Palmer even more. Palmer had 363 passing yards and three touchdowns playing in Seattle earlier this year, which makes me think he’s got a good chance to crack the 300-yard passing barrier again. Arizona is firing on all cylinders right now and Palmer makes a very good cash game play this week.
David Johnson ($6000) will capture any touchdowns that Carson Palmer doesn’t throw, and Arizona has an implied team total of around 30 points based on the Vegas line. This means the Cardinals are projected for around four touchdowns. Johnson’s price has been going up but he’s not overpriced yet. Getting just one touchdown will get him close to having value with how many yards and catches he has been averaging. Andre Ellington is projected to be healthy for this game, but I think Johnson has secured the lead running back role and makes for a very solid play in this game.
Eddie Lacy ($4500) tears up the Vikings every time they play. Even this year when he was about counted out he goes into Minnesota and runs for 100 yards. In his five career games against the Vikings, Lacy averages 107 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, and three catches for twenty-two yards. He plays better at home where he averages 4.6 yards per carry compared to 4.1 on the road. He runs better in December where he averages 4.7 yards per carry and almost a touchdown a game. Playing in night games he averages 4.7 yards per carry. All things are pointing towards Lacy having a good game this week.
James White ($5000) has averaged a touchdown a game over the past six weeks and that’s not a fluke. He appears to have taken over the Dion Lewis role, which is some running but more catching. When New England played Miami earlier this year Lewis had six catches for ninety-three yards and a touchdown, while only having five rushes. I could see something similar for White in this game. Miami has given up eight receiving touchdowns to running backs this year, so it’s something that can be exploited. We know Bill Belichick doesn’t take his foot off the gas so I’m expecting New England to put up points this week and White to be a part of it.