Divisional Round daily fantasy advice: Previewing the week in DFS
Tyler Loechner looks ahead to this week's slate of four games to find the best DFS plays across the price list.
Divisional Round daily fantasy advice: Previewing the week in DFS
Wild Card weekend went mostly as expected. The Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks and Houston Texans all rolled to victory. The only real surprise was that the New York Giants offered almost no fantasy value against the Packers.
The Divisional Round should be a different beast. Three of the four games all figure to be close contests, and all four games will offer plenty of fantasy value. In fact, we have all four games projected to be over 50 total points scored. As usual, I’ll offer up some of my thoughts to help get you started with your DFS prep.
Below are my early-week musings in DFS for the Divisional Round.
(Note: I’m providing only DraftKings and FanDuel salaries as I live in Florida, where Yahoo does not operate.)
Matt Ryan might go overlooked because of his tough matchup against the Seattle Seahawks, but I still think he’s worth consideration. Ryan completed 72.4 percent of his passes at home this year — compared to 67.2 percent on the road — while averaging 322 yards and 2.4 touchdowns per game. When he faced the Seahawks (in Seattle) back in Week 6, Ryan threw for 335 yards and three touchdowns. The Seahawks also gave up big days to Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady; they are certainly susceptible to strong quarterback play. It’s not the best matchup of the weekend, but Ryan might be the lowest-owned quarterback of the top five options, but he offers just as much upside as any of them.
The quarterback facing Ryan — Russell Wilson — is also in play. He’s $6,900 on DraftKings and $8,200 on FanDuel as the fourth-most-expensive option on each site. Wilson was flat-out bad on the road this season, tossing just eight touchdowns, but the matchup against the Falcons in a dome helps me overlook Wilson’s season-long home-road splits. Atlanta gave up the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season, and they ceded 19 passing scores while playing in the Georgia Dome (about 2.4 per game). Wilson’s streakiness makes him difficult to trust in cash games, but I like him in tournaments.
Aaron Rodgers is my favorite quarterback of the week. I’ve made the mistake of thinking he’ll cool down, but that just doesn’t seem to be in the cards. He has thrown for over 300 yards and four touchdowns in three straight games. The Cowboys will obviously try to slow the game down by giving Ezekiel Elliott the rock, but there’s no reason to think Rodgers won’t see his 35-plus pass attempts again this week. The Cowboys have been a middle-of-the-pack pass defense in terms of fantasy points ceded to quarterbacks all year. I’m riding Rodgers’ hot streak.
Ezekiel Elliott and Le’Veon Bell are both obviously in play, but it’ll be hard to jam both of them in, considering the two of them combined would account for 38 percent of your total salary on DraftKings and 30.6 percent of the salary on FanDuel. Elliott comes at a big discount compared to Bell ($2,000 cheaper on DraftKings and $1,400 cheaper on FanDuel), and given that he’s playing at home against a softer defense, I expect him to be the more popular back. Bell, however, did rush for 144 yards on just 18 attempts against the Chiefs back in October. If I can make it work, I think I’m gunning for Bell this week.
LeGarrette Blount is my instant-start player of the week. The Patriots are 10,000-point favorites (approximately) against the Houston Texans, playing at home, and Blount shredded them for 105 yards and two scores back in Week 3. He’s also cheaper than Thomas Rawls, and I expect plenty of people to load up on Rawls in a point-chasing effort. Blount has more potential for two-plus scores than anyone else on the slate not named Elliott or Bell.
I initially thought Tevin Coleman was interesting, but then I realized the Seahawks have only given up 65 receptions to running backs (fourth-fewest in the league), while giving up no passing scores out of the backfield. Coleman provides some much-needed salary relief, but he has been touching the ball only about 10 times per game. You can usually make the case for almost anyone in a tournament, so I’ll never say don’t play Coleman at all, but I will be looking elsewhere for the salary relief.
Speaking of salary relief, Terrance Williams has quickly become one of my favorite targets of the week. He’s only $3,100 on DraftKings and he’s minimum-salary $4,500 on FanDuel. The Packers were the most generous team to opposing wideouts this season, giving up 26 scores. No other team gave up more than 21 touchdowns to receivers. Williams is a touchdown-or-bust player, but given that the Packers have been a touchdown dispenser, it makes sense this week. He found success downfield against the Packers in Week 6, catching four of five targets for 75 yards, including a 42-yarder. According to our WR-CB chart, Williams has the best individual matchup of the weekend.
I said earlier that I like Matt Ryan, and accordingly I also like Julio Jones. It’s a similar story. People will shy from Jones because of the matchup against Richard Sherman and the Seahawks — and because Jones is expensive, and that money can be used elsewhere. But Jones shredded the Seahawks to the tune of seven catches on nine targets for 139 yards and a score back in Week 6. At this point, I’m willing to say Jones transcends matchup — especially at home. The only concern is that Ryan does spread the ball around a lot, limiting Jones’ touchdown upside. That makes me like him more on DraftKings than FanDuel.
Houston has been stellar against receivers this season, but Julian Edelman should find room to roam over the middle out of the slot against Kareem Jackson, who gave up 0.37 fantasy points per route run this year — third-worst among all projected starting corners this weekend.
Travis Kelce is the best tight end playing this week, and if you can fit him into your lineup, I have no problem with it. But I’m also giving Jimmy Graham serious consideration. The Falcons gave up the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this year, including a 6-89 line to Graham earlier in the year. If I’m playing Wilson, I’m stacking him with Graham.
Jared Cook is one of my favorite tight end plays of the week. The Cowboys have been downright exposed by tight ends this year — particularly over the second half of the season, during which they gave up lines of 16-167-2 to the Redskins tight ends, 6-80-1 to Tampa Bay, 9-101 to Detroit and 19-187-2 to Philadelphia. Cook has seen steady target volume from Aaron Rodgers over the past four games (8, 5, 7, 8) and he makes from a strong alternative option to Kelce and Graham.
Jason Witten is also extremely cheap on both FanDuel ($4,900) and DraftKings ($3,500), and the Packers are a middle-of-the-road team against tight ends. If Aaron Rodgers stays white-hot and this game turns into a shootout — an entirely possible scenario — then Witten should return huge value compared to his salary.
Tyler Loechner is a lead writer at PFF Fantasy. He has played fantasy football since 1999 and has been a part of the PFF Fantasy staff since 2010. Tyler was also previously a fantasy football featured columnist at Bleacher Report.