Peyton Manning Broncos 2015
Denver quarterback Peyton Manning is a low-cost, high-reward fantasy football value play in this weekend's NFL Divisional Round playoffs. Getty Images

The AFC and NFC’s Divisional Round Playoffs are upon us, standing as the third-to-last weekend DraftKings and FanDuel players have to pad their fantasy treasure chests before the conclusion of the 2015 NFL season.

With only eight teams remaining, obviously weekly fantasy league players don’t have nearly as much research to do when compared to the full 32-team slate they face most weeks during the regular season.

But budgeting out your lineups can still be tricky, so for the second straight week we’ve identified the top value plays at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end to make the arithmetic a little easier on weekly league players.

And just to be clear, we’re not suggesting you pick every one of these players. Instead, it’s best to pick one or two and spend the rest of your fantasy dollars on a few of the safer, more expensive fantasy studs.

Beginning with a $60,000 FanDuel and $50,000 DraftKings budget, here’s the best value picks to maximize lineups during the NFC and AFC’s Divisional Round playoffs, based off FantasyPros Optimizer and player salaries.


Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos, $7,000

Manning is arguably the biggest story of these playoffs, and also the most difficult player to trust and predict. But at 11.6 percent of your budget, Manning’s a risk worth taking against a Steelers secondary that nearly lost to AJ McCarron in his first career playoff start.

Fitzgerald Toussaint, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers, $6,200

There won’t be a running back controversy when Le’Veon Bell comes back, but Toussaint’s made an excellent case to be Pittsburgh’s No. 2 back. He did an excellent job with 118 yards from scrimmage against Cincinnati’s No. 11 defense versus running backs, and now meets a Denver unit that was only No. 12 against backs during the regular season.

Markus Wheaton, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers, $6,000

Antonio Brown hasn’t practiced all week, which will only leave Martavis Bryant facing double coverage. Wheaton’s a risk since he has just seven receptions for 89 yards in two career playoff games, and meets a Broncos D that was No. 1 against receivers. But in PPR leagues Wheaton’s going to have his best postseason game to date.

Vernon Davis, TE, Denver Broncos, $4,900

The former 49er, along with veteran Owen Daniels, will act as Manning’s security blanket as he looks under far more often than over the top while he’s testing out his arm strength.


Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs, $5,400

Smith leads the DraftKings value team again, largely because there’s no telling how New England’s best pass rusher and defensive end Chandler Jones will respond following his scary visit to the hospital. If receiver Jeremy Maclin is a go, and with Travis Kelce one of the best tight ends left in the playoffs, Smith can do some significant damage to the Patriots. Also, New England was just No. 14 against QBs this season.

Charcandrick West, RB, Kansas City Chiefs, $5,500

As middle of the road New England was against QBs this season, they’re actually the worst AFC defense left against pass-catching running backs. The Pats allowed 92 receptions for 636 yards and one score to opposing backs this season, and West serves as K.C.’s best rusher and pass-catching back, totaling 20 receptions for 214 yards and one touchdown.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals, $6,500

Fitzgerald broke his scoreless streak back in Week 16 when Arizona blasted Green Bay, and expect more of this weekend, especially with Packers cornerback Sam Shields (concussion) limited in practice and rookie corner Quinten Rollins (quadriceps) sitting out Wednesday’s session.

Heath Miller, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers, $3,200

Miller had just two catches for nine yards against the Bengals, yet Denver’s No. 21-ranked work against TEs this season leaves the window open for a big game. The Broncos gave up seven touchdowns to tight ends this season, putting them behind only Seattle and Pittsburgh, who each gave up eight.