I'm putting together a DraftKings Classic squad for the 2018 NFL Conference Championships. In the first game, the New England Patriots host the Jacksonville Jaguars. In the second game, the Minnesota Vikings travel to Philadelphia to battle the Eagles. My philosophy for the NFL Conference Championships was to add plenty of Patriots and Jaguars.
I have no faith that Minnesota, or Philadelphia, scores a lot of points on Sunday. Neither team likes to push the pace. The only Eagles' player I added is running back Jay Ajayi. The only Vikings' player I added is wide receiver Stefon Diggs.
FYI, this is my final NFL Fantasy DraftKings Classic Team of the season. Check it out!
2018 NFL Conference Championships Classic Team
QB – Blake Bortles, $5,000, Jacksonville at New England
Bortles' performance versus the Pittsburgh Steelers wasn't mind-blowing. He only passed for 214 yards off a 14 of 26 day. He only threw a single TD pass. But, I'm not worried. The reason I've added Blake Bortles to my final DraftKings Classic Team for the season is because Blake should have no choice but to throw the football in this game.
Jacksonville could play New England tough. However, even if the Jags play New England tough, there's a chance the Patriots score over 30 points in this one. More importantly, New England's defense has become exceptional versus the run. That's why I didn't add Jacksonville RB Leonard Fournette to the fantasy squad even though he's easily the most talented running back playing this weekend.
Blake's got it in him to keep up with the Patriots on the scoreboard. I'm rolling the dice that I'm right about that.
RB – Dion Lewis, $8,100, New England vs Jacksonville
Dion Lewis doesn't just rush the football. He's also excellent at catching the football out of the backfield. Now that Rex Burkhead is back, Dion's touches could take a hit. There's also the chance that New England doesn't use Lewis near the goal line. Versus the Titans in New England's Divisional Round win, the Patriots pulled Lewis for James White on the first couple of New England TD's.
I can't leave him off the team, though. Pittsburgh had a ton of luck throwing the football to RB Le'Veon Bell. I must believe New England comes up with a similar plan utilizing Dion Lewis.
RB – Jay Ajayi, $5,200, Philadelphia vs Minnesota
Minnesota ranks 1st in the NFL against opposing running backs. That's okay. It's become apparent to me that Jay Ajayi is Nick Foles' security blanket. Against a decent Atlanta defense, Ajayi rushed for 54 yards on 15 carries. He also caught 3 of 5 targets for 44 yards.
Philadelphia has a vanilla offense. If any of their players figure to have a great fantasy day, though, it's Jay Ajayi. There's also the chance that Vikings strong safety Andrew Sendejo skips this game. He left the contest versus New Orleans with a concussion. Without Sendejo, it's going to be even tougher for the Vikings to take down the tough Jay Ajayi.
WR – Danny Amendola, $5,500, New England vs Jacksonville
Jacksonville's defense is the best in the NFL against the pass. The reason why the Jags are so good versus the pass is because their best player on either side of the ball, Jalen Ramsey, plays cornerback. Ramsey must contend with New England WR Brandin Cooks' speed. Amendola, New England's slot receiver, could have a big afternoon.
Amendola caught 11 of 13 targets for 112 yards versus the Tennessee Titans. Tom Brady's got a slightly injured wrist on his throwing arm. He might stick to tossing the rock to Gronk, his running backs, and Amendola.
WR – Dede Westbrook, $3,900, Jacksonville at New England
Westbrook caught 1 pass for 8 yards in the win over the Steelers. That's because the Jags had their rushing attack going. New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia will come up with a plan to stop the Jaguars' rushing attack. Marqise Lee is New England's RB1. Patricia will come up with a game plan to stop Bortles to Lee. That means Westbrook might come up with a fantastic outing.
WR – Keelan Cole, $3,500, Jacksonville at New England
I'm going all in with both Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook. Sure, it could blow up in my face. But, I firmly believe that the Jaguars surprise the Patriots' defense by throwing it to both their talented rookie wide receivers.
There was a stretch during the regular season when Cole caught a TD pass in 3 straight games. Granted, that 3 game stretch was versus the Indianapolis Colts, the Seattle Seahawks, and the Houston Texans. New England's defense is much better than any of those 3 team's defenses. But…this is the playoffs. Guys must step it up. Maybe, Cole will be one of those guys that steps it up.
TE – Rob Gronkowski, $7,900, New England vs Jacksonville
Gronk caught 6 of 9 for 81 yards and a TD in the blowout playoff win over the Titans. No defense in the NFL can stop Rob Gronkowski. Some are capable of containing him. The Jags might not even contain him.
Pittsburgh tight-end Vance McDonald went nuts against the Jaguars' D. Ben Roethlisberger targeted McDonald 16 times. McDonald caught 10 of the 16 passes for 112 yards. Gronkowski almost certainly should produce numbers at least comparable to McDonald's.
FLEX – Stefon Diggs, WR, $6,900, Minnesota at Philadelphia
Because Minnesota must throw the football to move it against the Eagles, Diggs makes sense as my flex play. He's scored a TD in 4 straight games. More importantly, Adam Thielen, Minnesota QB Case Keenum's favorite target, got banged up in the win over the Saints. He'll play. I'm just not sure how effective he's going to be.
Diggs should scare the Eagles more than Thielen because he can go long. If they switch the D to account for Diggs' big play ability, forget it. Philly might not have a way of stopping Diggs from catching the football all day on curls, back shoulder throws, and 10-yard outs.
DEF – Minnesota Vikings, $3,800, Minnesota at Philadelphia
The Minnesota Vikings are the highest-cost defense on the board. That's not the reason I decided to add them to my DraftKings Classic Team. The real reason I've decided to add the Vikings is because I don't believe Vikings at Eagles is a high-scoring game.
Philadelphia knows the best way to beat the Vikings is to prevent Minnesota's better offense from getting the football. That means, the Eagles run the football, take time off the clock, make short, often meaningless, passes, etc. The more the Eagles hold the football, especially without scoring, the likelier there's a chance the Vikings' defense forces a turnover.
That's why I like the Vikings' D. It goes up against an Eagles' offense that wants to keep it on the field as much as possible.
Good luck in all of your 2018 NFL Conference Championships Contest