This article is part of our FanDuel Fantasy Football series.
It'll take a lot of courage to fade Patrick Mahomes ($9,200) in both cash games and tournaments, as the Browns will be missing one of their two edge rushers in Olivier Vernon, and they have a very weak secondary to go along with one of the weakest coverage groups against tight ends, which should give the QB free access to his two top weapons. Need more? The Browns are also very strong against the run, so don't expect Andy Reid to waste his time running the ball, while Mahomes likely throws at least 45 passes.
Looking for a contrarian GPP play? Consider Drew Brees ($7,300), as he's playing in the dome in which there are no weather conditions to deal with, and he'll be facing a Tampa defense that has crumbled against the pass down the stretch. In addition, Taysom Hill, who has a knee injury, may not play, which could provide Brees with a few additional snaps in the red zone, potentially increasing his TD projection.
This slate doesn't have many value options, but saving salary isn't a bad strategy, so we'll start with Leonard Fournette ($6,300). At press time, Ronald Jones (quad) is a game-time decision, which will either provide Fournette with a lead role or potentially an elevated backup role. However, this is not a favorable matchup, as it's against one of the nastiest run defenses in the league, but should the Bucs fall behind, Fournette could add some yardage as a receiver, which could get him near reaching value.
Another option to save money is by rostering Kareem Hunt ($6,200), especially against a Kansas City defense that has little interest in stopping the run. Not only will Hunt likely see roughly half of the backfield snaps, but he'll likely have a role as both a runner and receiver in a game that the Browns will likely trail, and when Frank Clark and Chris Jones bring the pass rush, Hunt will be a great outlet option for Baker Mayfield.
For those willing to spend up, especially in a GPP, Nick Chubb ($8,200) has a path to having a huge game if the Browns are able to keep the game close, in which case, he'll have little trouble shredding a Chiefs defense that is weak against the run. If Chubb sees 20 carries, he could have a massive performance, but if Cleveland falls behind on the scoreboard, he has clear downside.
Sometimes, you get what you pay for, and Tyreek Hill ($8,800) is no exception, as he could see the type of target volume, such as the average of 14.5 targets he saw between Weeks 9 and 13. He'll face a Cleveland secondary that's unlikely to have any answers for him, and good luck bracketing a receiver who was positioned in the slot more than 70 percent of the time down the stretch.
Another expensive option who's in a strong spot is Michael Thomas ($7,200), who finally displayed chemistry last week that he hadn't shown with Drew Brees earlier in the season. He'll be up against a Buccaneers pass defense that fell apart down the stretch and was shredded by the Washington passing attack in the wild-card round. He'll also benefit from being used heavily in the slot, where he was stationed in more than half of the Saints snaps down the stretch.
Assuming the Chiefs score plenty of points, Rashard Higgins ($5,300) is someone to consider in GPPs, as he's had a pair of games with at least nine targets, as recently as Week 13, and he scored in each of the games in which he saw the high target volume. Yes, the Chiefs are a top-10 unit against wide receivers, but they've allowed a number of lower-profile receivers to produce against them during the season, and it would make sense if they treat Jarvis Landry as the receiver they need to slow down, which should make the coverage easier against Higgins.
Obviously, the Chiefs players are priced up, but it'll be very difficult to fade Travis Kelce ($8,500) in cash games and GPPs after he's averaged 11 targets per game since Week 8, while only seeing fewer than 10 targets once during that span. Aside from the volume, he'll be facing a Browns defense that's one of the worst in the league against opposing tight ends, and they allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends between Weeks 11 and 16.
If spending down and fading Kelce, or even flexing a tight end in GPPs, don't sleep on Austin Hooper, who has seen a drastic increase in targets since Week 14 while scoring three times over his last four games. He'll also have a great matchup against a Chiefs defense that allowed the second-most fantasy points to tight ends between Weeks 11 and 16, and with the Browns likely to trail, he could flirt with eight to 10 targets.
With so many pricey options at the skill positions on this slate, not many players will look to spend up, but the Saints defense ($4,800) could come up with a massive performance. This is the defense that held the Saints to three points in Week 9 while making Tom Brady miserable, and the Bucs will be without right guard Alex Cappa. With Brady being largely immobile, the Saints have the manpower to crush the pocket with pressure up the middle, and if that happens consistently, it'll be a long day for the Tampa Bay offense.
With the Chiefs ($4,200) expected to play with a lead in this contest, they could force Baker Mayfield into a pass-heavy game script, and with Frank Clark and Chris Jones plenty able to make Mayfield uncomfortable, they may pile up sacks while forcing takeaways, especially with Browns' stud left tackler Jack Conklin a game-time decision with a hamstring injury.