As redraft fantasy football seasons come to an end, some managers and leagues pivot to a condensed version encompassing the NFL playoffs. This format brings its own unique challenges and changes from what we are used to playing during the NFL’s regular season. Others are competing in daily fantasy sports (DFS) competitions. How should managers handle Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb in 2022 playoff fantasy football leagues and DFS?
CeeDee Lamb should be one of the first WRs selected in playoff fantasy football leagues
Lamb’s talent is undeniable. He is a 100-yard or multi-touchdown game waiting to happen. The second-year WR finished as a WR2 or better in seven games. The only downside in his performance has been his drop in touchdowns, with his last one coming in Week 10. Still, the volume is there. Lamb has accounted for over 20% of Dallas’ targets and air yards and will be the No. 1 option for one of the more dangerous teams in the NFL.
The Cowboys’ Week 18 performance showed what this offense is capable of. However, the competition will be a bit more formidable than the Philadelphia Eagles and their backups. Currently the No. 4 seed, Dallas would play the Arizona Cardinals in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. For as good as the Cardinals can be, they have been one of the coldest teams in the league as of late. In their last four games, Arizona is dead last in fantasy points allowed to WRs at 51.41 per game.
That’s one potential game for Lamb, but we need to look at Dallas’ playoff chances as a whole. There is no question history is not on their side. The Cowboys have not won a game beyond Wild Card Weekend since 1995 when they won the Super Bowl.
They have a chance to break that streak this season. I can’t think of any team that would want to face the Cowboys in their current iteration. I would have no complaints selecting Lamb in 2022 playoff fantasy football formats as my WR1, and he’s a terrific DFS play given his upside. He should give — at a minimum — two games of elite-level performances. Anything else is a bonus due to the chaos of the postseason.
How is playoff fantasy different from traditional fantasy leagues?
For starters, the player pool has been drastically reduced. Only teams who made the playoffs are available. The problem is the pool gets smaller every week as half the field is eliminated in each round of the postseason.
This is where the strategy really comes into its own. Managers need to balance the talent and upside of a player against their’s team potential longevity in the playoffs. A great fantasy player on a team likely to be eliminated in the Wild Card round might not be worth the risk.
The same thinking applies to a player on a team with the No. 1 seed, such as the Green Bay Packers. While they are likely to make a deeper run in the playoffs, you are losing a full week of production due to their bye week.
This is just one of a multitude of iterations of how fantasy football can be played in the playoffs. As we continue our dive into positional groups and teams destined for the postseason, let’s turn our focus to the second of the Dallas Cowboys sensational wide receivers.
Amari Cooper brings touchdown upside for fantasy playoff leagues and DFS
Consistency will never be the calling card of Cooper’s game. Through 15 games this season, Cooper has caught 68 of his 104 targets for 865 yards and 8 touchdowns. Despite the yards and scores, he finished as a WR2 or better just twice. 44% of his yards (346) came in three contests. From Weeks 9-17, Cooper averaged 3.6 receptions and 41.6 yards on 5.9 targets.
In Weel 18, Cooper hauled in 5 of 7 targets for 79 yards. It was the second time since Week 8 he posted 75 or more yards. While Cedrick Wilson was the star of the show against the Eagles, Cooper and Lamb will remain the primary options.
Cooper is 14th in the NFL in red-zone targets, and I like him to find the end zone on Wild Card Weekend. Even in a smaller player pool, Cooper will remain a WR2 in the playoffs. I would still prefer Lamb and the obvious guys such as Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Cooper Kupp, Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill, Keenan Allen, and even Mike Evans. Once we are beyond those names, I can make a case for Cooper as a great high-upside/higher-risk WR2.