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Kyrie Irving’s Nets absence to continue

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Kyrie Irving's Nets absence to continue

Nets star guard Kyrie Irving will miss his fourth consecutive game, the team announced Monday.

Irving has been sidelined because of personal reasons and his absence will continue for Tuesday’s clash with the Nuggets.

When asked for an update on Irving’s status, Nets coach Steve Nash told reporters: “I do not have any updates, sorry.”

While star teammate Kevin Durant returned Sunday in the Nets’ loss to the Thunder, NBA champion and six-time All-Star Irving was missing once again.

Irving is averaging 27.1 points, 6.1 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game in Brooklyn this season.

The Nets (5-6) have lost back-to-back games and sit tied for ninth in the Eastern Conference with the Knicks and Cavaliers.

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Conference Championship NFL DFS Picks: Best value players, sleepers for DraftKings, FanDuel daily fantasy football lineups

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Conference Championship NFL DFS Picks: Best value players, sleepers for DraftKings, FanDuel daily fantasy football lineups

The final four NFL teams are set to square off in the AFC and NFC title games, the second highest stage in the sport. Unsurprisingly, the slate on Conference Championship weekend often provides some of the most competitive and entertaining football of the year. That makes it all the more fun for NFL DFS enthusiasts, whether they prefer DraftKings, FanDuel, or Yahoo.

With DFS player pools trimmed down to just four squads, it will be as important as ever for daily fantasy football managers to pinpoint sleepers and value plays. Finding cost-efficient players who outperform their price tiers can afford managers weekly studs at other roster spots.

My job, all 17 regular-season weeks and now three weeks into the postseason, is to scan the vast projections on RotoQL and pick my favorite sleepers and value picks. If you checked this column out last week, you would have benefited from our advice to plug in the following players (all divisional-round prices and fantasy points production via DraftKings):

  • Baker Mayfield ($5,300): 15.3 fantasy points
  • Cam Akers ($5,700): 16.6
  • Kareem Hunt ($4,800): 10.4
  • Jarvis Landry ($5,600): 15
  • Buffalo Bills ($2,900): 13

These players all vastly outperformed their price tiers. By finding such great values at modest costs, DFS managers afforded themselves even more consistent studs like Aaron Rodgers, Stefon Diggs, and Travis Kelce.

MORE CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP DFS: Lineup Builder

You can read Conference Championship previews and fantasy prediction articles 24/7 on BetQL, find out which side the pros are betting on their NFL expert picks dashboard, follow all the NFL public betting data, and build DraftKings lineups on RotoQL. 

Let’s break down our top Conference Championship DFS value plays, and you can get an idea of why 100,000 DFS players trust RotoQL to build lineups. We constantly monitor pricing and provide the most up-to-date insight and analysis to maximize your lineup success. Optimize, find value plays, and increase your chances of cashing today! 

Conference Championship NFL DFS Picks: QB sleepers, values

RotoQL’s DraftKings QB of the Week:

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (DK price: $6,500 | RotoQL projection: 20.9)

Rodgers finds himself listed at a bargain rate on DraftKings this weekend, probably due to Tampa Bay’s stifling defense in its win last week in New Orleans, but Rodgers has been steadily dominant this season and showed no signs of slowing down against the Rams’ elite defense last week. Rodgers averages 26.4 fantasy points over Green Bay’s past 10 games, and he only has one game under 23.5 points in that span. He also averages 24.9 points in home games since the start of the 2020 season. RotoQL projects the MVP frontrunner at 20.9 points at Lambeau this weekend with a 46.8-point ceiling. He’s your best bet at QB on DraftKings, and he’s a great bet to lead the Pack to the Super Bowl for the second time in his career.

RotoQL’s FanDuel QB of the Week:

Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (FD price: $8,500 | RotoQL projection: 23.1)

Despite Allen being the second-cheapest starting QB on FanDuel, RotoQL projects him as the highest-scoring signal-caller in the FD field this weekend. Full disclosure: The first-time Pro Bowler put up just 12.5 fantasy points against Baltimore last week, the lowest-scoring outing of his 2020 campaign. But before his divisional-game dud, he had averaged 28.1 points over the course of his previous nine games. His ceiling remains in the mid-to-high 30s, which he has already hit multiple times this season. The Chiefs have allowed at least 275 passing yards in six of their past nine games, and the over/under has been set at 54.5 points for this one. Expect Allen to throw early and often and prove himself the most valuable QB on FanDuel.

Conference Championship DraftKings, FanDuel Picks: RB sleepers, values

RotoQL’s DraftKings RB of the Week:

Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers (DK Price: $5,300 | RotoQL projection: 14.1)

This price may not seem like a value at first glance, but look deeper and you’ll realize that 10.6 percent of your budget is a moderate cost for Fournette, aka “Playoff Lenny.” The fourth-year back has been on the field for 76.5 percent of Tampa Bay’s offensive snaps this postseason, and he’s made the most of his opportunities. He scored 23.2 PPR points against Washington on wild card weekend and 21.7 in New Orleans last week. He has seen the overwhelming majority of the Bucs’ rushing attempts, with 19 totes for 93 yards and a TD against WFT and 17 for 63 against NO. Even better, Tom Brady has targeted the dual-purpose back 10 total times between Tampa’s two playoff tilts, which Fournette turned into nine catches for 83 yards and a score. Green Bay’s secondary might be tough on Brady, but its run defense has more holes than a Cheesehead. The Packers ranked 27th in fantasy points allowed to running backs this season, and they struggle to defend pass-catching backs. Fournette just turned 26 on Monday — help him celebrate by firing up Playoff Lenny in all your DraftKings lineups.

RotoQL’s FanDuel RB of the Week:

Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (FD price: $8,000 | RotoQL projection: 11.4)

Sure, $8,000 seems like a gargantuan amount to spend on a running back with a $60,000 budget, but at the highest of stages, even expensive DFS players can offer the best values. You’re not just paying for big-yardage potential and end-zone upside when it comes to Jones, who RotoQL lists with a 45.7-point ceiling this weekend. You’re also paying for a high floor. The fourth-year back (and first-time Pro Bowl selection) has averaged 17.3 points on FanDuel over Green Bay’s past four games. Last week, he rushed 14 times for 99 yards and a touchdown against an elite Rams front-seven. He only caught one pass for 14 yards, but remember that FanDuel only rewards a half-point for receptions anyway. What matters most in FanDuel is yardage and scores, and Jones has netted 3,279 yards from scrimmage and 35 total TDs since the start of the 2019 season. Spend up here and take the obvious value with Jones.

RotoQL’s RB to Target in Both DraftKings & FanDuel:

Darrel Williams, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills (DK: $4,800 | FD: $6,000)

Williams’ breakout performance may have been the second-most surprising thing to happen in the Chiefs divisional-round game last week after Patrick Mahomes’ devastating concussion that forced him out of the game. The third-year back came out of nowhere to help KC to its 22-17 win over the Browns, touching the ball 17 times for 94 yards. Le’Veon Bell, meanwhile, only touched the ball twice and totaled six rushing yards. If rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire (high ankle sprain) remains sidelined this weekend, Williams seems like a superb buy at these prices. It’s obvious KC coach Andy Reid trusts the 25-year-old back when the lights shine the brightest, and Buffalo has surrendered over 150 rushing yards in each of its two playoff games so far. Williams deserves the nod, regardless of your preferred DFS platform.

Conference Championship FanDuel, DraftKings Picks: WR sleepers, values

RotoQL’s DraftKings WR of the Week:

Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers (DK Price: $5,400 | RotoQL projection: 14.5)

After watching the Bucs the past two playoff games, I’m completely fine with stacking Brady, Fournette, and Godwin. Brady has made it abundantly clear that Godwin has not only made his “Circle of Trust,” but he also might just be his new favorite receiver (sorry, Jules). The fourth-year wideout has seen 19 targets in the playoffs, good for a 26-percent target share, which he has turned into 113 yards and a touchdown. He runs great routes, and he always gets positive yardage after the catch. With Packers outside cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Kevin King likely consumed with Antonio Brown and Mike Evans, Godwin likely gets tasked with beating nickel corner Chandon Sullivan. Sullivan had a decent second half of the regular season, but he also hasn’t seen a slot receiver as talented as Godwin in that span. Go with Godwin.

RotoQL’s FanDuel WR of the Week:

John Brown, Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (FD price: $5,600 | RotoQL projection: 9.2)

When the stakes are high, the veteran studs shine. Brown had struggled with injuries throughout nearly the entire second half of the 2020 regular season, but he broke out in a major way in Buffalo’s 17-3 divisional-round win over the Ravens. “Blur” caught eight-of-11 targets, as did Pro Bowl teammate Stefon Diggs. Allen’s success almost exclusively came from this receiver tandem, as rookie Gabriel Davis and veteran Cole Beasley got shut out on a combined six targets. Brown should play a huge role once again, this time against a Chiefs secondary that seems to rely heavily on its safeties against No. 1 wideouts like Diggs. KC held Jarvis Landry largely in check last week, but Browns No. 2 option Rashard Higgins caught five-of-seven targets for 88 yards. Making matters even more difficult, Chiefs corner Bashaud Breeland suffered a concussion in the divisional-round game and could miss Sunday’s game. Fire up the Blur.

RotoQL’s WR to Target in Both DraftKings & FanDuel:

Allen Lazard, Green Bay Packers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (DK: $4,200 | FD: $5,700)

Lazard came alive in Green Bay’s win over the Rams last week, grabbing four receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown. It easily served as the most productive game for the third-year slot receiver since his Week 11 return from core muscle surgery, which had sidelined him for nearly two months. Rodgers must be delighted to have one of his favorite receivers close to 100 percent again, especially considering the Buccaneers often struggle to cover the slot. Bucs cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting might have been talking the talk following the big win over the Saints, and he did have an interception in the game, but Bucs fans know SMB gets exposed much more than fellow corners Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean, the two guys “walking the walk” in that secondary. Davis will likely shadow Packers All-Pro Davante Adams, while Dean tries to contain deep threat Marquez Valdes-Scantling. That leaves the second-year corner with Lazard, who should see plenty of looks from Rodgers. RotoQL projects Lazard at 10.9 DK/8.9 FD with ceilings of 29.4/23.4.

Conference Championship NFL DFS Picks: TE sleepers, values

RotoQL’s TE to Target in DraftKings:

Robert Tonyan, Green Bay Packers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (DK price: $3,600 | RotoQL projection: 10.6)

The tight end landscape has been a barren wasteland this season, but Tonyan has been one of the few sparks of light at the position. After a fantastic early season, he fizzled out for a while, but h e finished off the regular season with a handful of games with PPR production in the low-to-mid teens. He scored 10 PPR points last week in Green Bay’s victory over the Rams, which is about what you’re hoping for when you spend $3,600 on a tight end. If you need cost-efficiency at TE in a DraftKings lineup, he’s the right play, even if it may not feel right.

RotoQL’s TE to Target in FanDuel:

Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (FD price: $4,700 | RotoQL projection: 4.6)

Knox won’t light up the box score with 10 catches or 100 yards, but he very well could find the end zone. He has emerged as one of Allen’s go-to targets on third down and in the red zone, and Kansas City yielded the third-most fantasy points in the NFL to tight ends this season. I like the upside Knox offers at under $5,000. I don’t love it, but I like it.

RotoQL’s TE to Target in Both DraftKings & FanDuel

Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills (DK: $8,000 | FD: $8,600)

You had to have known this was coming. Screw discount deals, this guy serves as a value at tight end for any price under $10,000. He’s practically a lock to score you 20-plus points every time he laces up, and this week RotoQL projects him at 21.3 with a 44.4-point ceiling. Would you be surprised? He put up 44.4 in the playoffs last year against Houston, and the Bills are the second-most generous defense in fantasy to the tight end position. I’m rostering Kelce in 75 percent of my DFS lineups this weekend.

BetQL, RotoQL’s sister product, simplifies the research process for sports bettors by equipping them with real-time line movements, value bets of the day and meaningful team trends. Check it out here!

Conference Championship NFL DFS values: D/ST sleepers

RotoQL’s D/ST to Target in Both DraftKings & FanDuel:

Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (DK: $2,800 | FD: $3,400)

DFS contests in the late rounds of the playoffs are rarely won by team defense and special teams picks, so why not pick a lower-priced squad with upside? Leslie Frazier’s Bills D has been one of the better units since the home stretch of the regular season, and it just held Baltimore to three points in the divisional round. Patrick Mahomes is coming off a concussion and will cede signal-calling duties to Chad Henne once again if he can’t go. The chances are Mahomes plays the whole game and the Chiefs put up a bunch of points, but the chances are also that no D/ST separates itself from the other three teams fantasy scoring-wise. Stray from the herd and play the Bills.

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Patrick Mahomes’ mom was not pleased with hit that injured QB: ‘Trash football’

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Patrick Mahomes' mom was not pleased with hit that injured QB: 'Trash football'

There’s nothing like a mother’s love — or a mother’s scorn.

Randi Mahomes, mother of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, was like all viewers watching the QB struggling to get to his feet on Sunday afternoon: concerned, worried and a little angry by Mahomes’ departure from the field.

But momma Mahomes took it a step further and took to Twitter to question the hit that sidelined her son — and berate the player who made it in the same 240 characters:

“#51 Wilson that’s some trash football leading with helmet, pulling his head and pushing helmet.. why are you not thrown out!?? Come on NFL,” the tweet reads.

MORE: Could superstar QB Deshaun Watson be on the move? What you need to know

Mahomes took a hit from linebacker Mack Wilson that left him woozy and wobbly as he tried to get to his feet, eventually needing help from KC medical staff to get off the field. Mahomes would enter concussion protocol and his status for this Sunday’s matchup vs. the Bills is uncertain.

There was no flag on the play, as it was unclear what rule, if any, Wilson violated on the hit. Slow motion replays revealed that Wilson’s helmet made contact with Mahomes’ shoulder pads. Most viewers chalked up the incident to just playing football.

Mahomes didn’t harbor any ill will toward Wilson, who reached out to apologize after the game:

The Chiefs would go on to win on Sunday with heroics from backup QB Chad Henne, who helped punch Kansas City’s ticket to the AFC Championship game.

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Deshaun Watson trade tracker: Timeline of rumors, dysfunction detail Texans’ rift with franchise QB

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Deshaun Watson trade tracker: Timeline of rumors, dysfunction detail Texans' rift with franchise QB

Not so elementary, my dear Watson.

The yearslong odyssey for the Texans to find a true franchise passer culminated in Houston selecting the Deshaun Watson out of Clemson in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, but it looks like the pairing will soon come to an end, with tumult surrounding the quarterback and the franchise leading to lots of smoke and trade rumors.

With organizational chaos dooming the Texans the past two seasons, and ownership reportedly over-relying on the voice and opinions of Jack Easterby and reportedly completely ignoring the voice of Watson, it’s hard to fault Watson for wanting out. He’s a top-five quarterback coming off his best season, still young and with a contract that will prove to be a bargain in a few years.

Total organizational instability — from the top down — has led Watson to, reportedly, being incredibly pissed off and ready to move on from the team that drafted him in 2017. Here’s a timeline of reports and other rumors that detail the interworkings of the Texans organization and Watson’s displeasure with the situation.

MORE: Here are Deshaun Watson’s best trade fits, from Jets to Dolphins

(Getty Images)

Deshaun Watson trade rumors

Jan. 18: Watson likes Instagram post linking him to Jets

Source: Instagram detectives

We’ve officially reached the “NBA drama” stage of Watson trade rumors, with Instagram users discovering that Watson liked a post of a New York Post back page with a story suggesting the Jets should trade for him. No trade requests have been made yet.

Jan. 18: Texans have no interest in dealing Watson, Panthers interested

Source: Ian Rapoport, NFL Network

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that the Texans have no interest in trading Watson, instead wanting to keep him. Multiple teams, including the Panthers, have called Houston to gauge interest in the passer.

Jan. 18: Watson not answering calls from Texans organization

Source: Sarah Barshop, ESPN

According to Texans beat writer Sarah Barshop, Watson can’t be bothered to answer calls from Texans brass. Adam Schefter also reiterates what we already knew: Watson holds leverage here because of his no-trade clause.

Jan. 18: ‘Great lather’ to get Watson out, but leverage in his favor

Source: Josina Anderson, ESPN

Anderson reminds everyone a key point: Watson has a no-trade clause, and it’s not entirely in the Texans’ best interest to trade away a superstar of Watson’s caliber. In any case, it’s a weak argument, especially if the team is going to continue to do poorly by its star player.

Jan. 18: Watson has yet to ask for a trade

Source: Ian Rapoport, NFL Network

Despite all the smoke surrounding Watson and the Texans at the moment, the superstar QB has yet to ask for a trade, per Rapoport. That hasn’t stopped teams from calling to check on Watson’s availability, though, 

Jan. 17: Watson has ‘played his last snap for Houston’

Source: Adam Schefter/Chris Mortensen, ESPN

If the weeks of turmoil and confusion have left any doubt about Watson’s future in Houston, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that some people surrounding the Texans organization feel Watson won’t play another down for the team. A source close to Chris Mortensen added that the only remedy for the situation between Watson and the Texans would be for owner Cal McNair to fire … Cal McNair.

Schefter also added that “Watson’s feelings cannot and should not be underestimated.” Whatever that means.

(Getty Images)

Jan. 16: Watson ‘just wants out’ of Houston

Source: Greg Bishop, Jenny Vrentas, Sports Illustrated

Despite the Texans making moves to try and appease their disgruntled quarterback, Watson just wants out of H-Town, per SI. A culmination of the coaching and GM search and general organizational dysfunction has led to Watson taking a hard stance on his status with the team: Just get me out of here.

Jan. 15: A single tweet sets NFL world on fire

Source: Deshaun Watson’s Twitter

Coming from a Schefter report that Watson’s anger was “at a 2, but now a 10,” the Texans QB sends out a single tweet that seems to confirm this. A later tweet would actually indicate that these were actually song lyrics. (Sure, Deshaun.)

MORE: Deshaun Watson’s latest tweet sends Twitter back into trade frenzy

Jan. 15: Watson photographed in Falcons gear

Source: Instagram

A curious wardrobe decision by Watson, with a photo on an Instagram story showing Watson in a Falcons jacket, coincidentally, outside of a building in New York City. Watson is a Georgia native and likely grew up a Falcons fan.

It’s just a jacket, but let your imagination run wild.

Jan. 12: Texans request interview for Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy

Source: Ian Rapoport, NFL Network

The Chiefs OC is a hot commodity on the coaching scene, and was even recommended to Watson by some guy named Patrick Mahomes. While the Chiefs hadn’t initially put in an interview with Bieniemy — missing the window in which coordinators can interview during the playoffs — new GM Nick Caserio is interested in speaking with him. Because of tampering policies, the Texans won’t be allowed to speak with Bieniemy until after the Chiefs are eliminated.

Jan. 12: Andre Johnson speaks, offers Watson advice

Source: Andre Johnson via Twitter

In the words of Deandre Hopkins, when ‘Dre speaks, we listen. The former Texans wide receiver took to Twitter to offer Watson some sage advice: Stand your ground. He also roasted the Texans and their devotion to Jack Easterby, who many question 

MORE: Andre Johnson thinks Deshaun Watson is right to turn on ‘pathetic’ Texans

Jan. 10: Watson’s anger reaching boiling point

Source: Adam Schefter, ESPN

Heads exploded when then head coach/GM Bill O’Brien opted to trade star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals, with Watson himself taking the trade in stride. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Watson’s anger vaulted from a “2 to a 10” with the organization opting not to hire ESPN analyst and former front-office exec Louis Riddick to its GM role.

Jan. 10: More details emerge about rift; Dolphins could be a trade destination

Source: Chris Mortensen, ESPN

If Watson were to be moved, then the Dolphins could be a viable destination for a trade, according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. Miami, who holds Houston’s first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, would reportedly be open to trading quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and trade assets in exchange for Watson, per Mortensen.

(Getty Images)

Jan. 7: The Texans name Nick Caserio new GM

Source: “Literally us, the  Houston Texans.”

A major part of the reported rift between Watson and the Texans surrounded Houston naming a general manager without Watson’s input, a promise that had been supposedly made to Watson during the season. Instead, owner Cal McNair Jr. and Jack Easterby.

MORE: Ranking the NFL’s head-coaching vacancies

Jan. 5: J.J. Watt offers an ominous apology 

Source: JJ Watt’s mouth

After the Texans fell in Week 17 to the Titans in Week 17, NFL cams caught JJ Watt and Deshaun Watson in a candid moment as the two were walking off the field. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Watt said. “We wasted one of your years.” The Texans would finish 4-12.

Oct. 5: Texans fire Bill O’Brien

Source: “Literally us, the  Houston Texans.”

Well, about a year, many losses and one too many trades too late, the Texans decided to fire head coach/general manager Bill O’Brien after a sluggish start to their 2020 season. The team would name Romeo Crennel the interim head coach.

O’Brien’s tenure as HC would be mired in personnel controversies and several lopsided trades that leave the Texans without a first-round pick in 2021. 

April 2019: Jack Easterby hired by Houston

Source: The Texans

“I think the best way to tell the story is by starting at the end, briefly, then going back to the beginning, and then periodically returning to the end, maybe giving different characters’ perspectives throughout.” — “The Other Guys,” 2010

Arguably the genesis of the chaos in Houston was the hiring of Patriots team chaplain — later “character coach,” whatever that is — as its executive vice president of football operations.

Easterby’s meteoric rise to a such a high office in an NFL franchise is met with skepticism from all avenues, and would come back to haunt the team later.

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