Times are changing in the NFL. For the first time since 2009, the Patriots are playing a game on Wild Card weekend. It is also the first time you could ever look at Ryan Tannehill and say he is a better fantasy option than Tom Brady. It truly is a new decade when you can say something like that! With Tannehill at a 1X multiplier and Brady at a 1.35X multiplier, it is a difficult choice. Who should you go with? We will get into that and much more with my champion mode picks for each position.
Tom Brady (1.35X)
To be honest, both of these quarterbacks do not look very appealing fantasy wise. The weather in Foxborough calls for rain which will make things harder on both quarterbacks and they both have difficult matchups.
The choice with Brady here is almost a choice by default with how things seem stacked against Tannehill having a good game. Tannehill has had a great season since replacing Marcus Mariota in Week 7. In 10 games as a starter, he has thrown for 2598 yards, 22 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. However, on a rainy day in a road playoff game against the best pass defense in the NFL, it would be surprising if he did not struggle numbers-wise in this game. In addition to that, with the fact that the Titans have one of the best running backs in the league in Derrick Henry, the running game will most likely be the focal point of their offense.
Brady has been underwhelming by his standards in his 20th NFL season. He has thrown for 4057 yards, 24 touchdowns with 8 interceptions. However, with the Titans ranking 21st in pass defense DVOA, his stellar playoff resume and experience playing in poor weather, there is a chance he can put together a solid game. With Brady’s multiplier being 1.35X and Tannehill’s being 1X, Brady is the choice here by a narrow margin.
Derrick Henry (1.3X)
With the circumstances stacked against the Titans passing attack, this has all of the makings of game Derrick Henry carries the Titans on his back. Henry had a monster season; carrying the ball 303 times for a league-leading 1,540 yards and 16 touchdowns for an average of 5.1 yards per carry. He will be given all of the opportunities to have another huge game on the ground especially against a Patriots defense that has struggled against the run at times. There have been four games this year in which a running back has run for over 100 yards against the Patriots. Henry has a great chance to be the 5th. The Patriots options at running back include James White (1.9X), Sony Michele (2.2X), and Rex Burkhead (2.25X). With no indication of what you can expect from any of those guys from game to game, Henry is the much safer play here even at the 1.3X multiplier.
Julian Edelman (1.8X)
It seems pretty crazy to say but Edelman has established himself as one of the best playoff receivers in NFL history. Since he became the full-time slot receiver for the Patriots in 2013, he has played in 13 playoff games and he has recorded 106 catches, 1,337 yards, and 3 touchdowns. That averages out to be 8 catches and 103 yards per game. He has been Brady’s most trusted target for seven years now and it was even more so this season. Edelman recorded 100 catches for 1,117 yards and 6 touchdowns while playing in every game in the regular season.
Even with Edelman dealing with knee and shoulder injuries, he has always had the toughness to play through injuries and still be productive. With Titans star rookie receiver AJ Brown expected to be shadowed by All-Pro corner Stephon Gilmore, there is no other receiver on either side that seems more poised to get close to the number of chances as Edelman.
Jonnu Smith (1.95X)
After the Patriots used the tight end position to dominate football the last 10 years with Rob Gronkowski, they have plummeted to the bottom of the league when it comes to tight end production in 2019. The two Patriots tight ends (Ben Watson and Matt Lacosse), this season have COMBINED for 30 catches for 304 yards and 1 touchdown. Jonnu Smith, who started as the Titans backup tight end, by himself has 35 catches for 439 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Watson and Lacosse have big multiplier numbers at 2.9X and 3X respectively, but that should not persuade you to take a chance on either of them. Brady has shown no trust in them all season and that should not change in this game. Smith, on the other hand, has some intrigue with the Patriots’ relative struggles in covering tight ends this season and historically. If you decide to put a tight end in your lineup, there is no question that Smith is your guy.
Nick Folk (2.4X)
If you are unfamiliar with our NFL Champion mode contests, it is good for you to know that kickers can provide excellent value. For example, if you look at our rules and scoring you can see that a reception for a receiver is 0.5 points. While one successful field goal between 39-49 yards is four points. So a receiver can have eight catches and a kicker can have one good field goal in that range and they would have the same amount of points. Obviously this does not account for yards a receiver gets but it shows the value of field goals.
Folk is an easy pick here for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Folk is a more experienced kicker. He is 259/322 for his career while Greg Joseph (2.65X) is 17/20 and has not attempted a field goal this season yet for the Titans. Asking to attempt his first field goal of the season in a hostile environment in the playoffs is a tough ask. In addition to that, is the opportunities that each team will get. The Titans have the best touchdown percentage once they get inside the Red Zone in the league at 76%. The Patriots are ranked 27th in that category at 50%. With Folk likely to get more opportunities and a better chance to hit when he gets his chances, he should be a lock for all of your lineups.
Edelman is a 2.7X multiplier in the champion spot and there is not a safer champion pick out there. His consistency in the playoffs and the obvious lack of weapons behind him ensures that he is going to be given all of the chances to have another big game. He delivers in these playoff moments almost every time regardless of what is going on with him health-wise. I would be proud to have Julian Edelman as my champion for my single-game lineup and you should too.
This article expresses the personal views of the writer and does not reflect the view(s) of SuperDraft in any way.
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