The Wild Card Round was a tough one for me in terms of DFS, but part of becoming a seasoned DFS player is taking your lumps and understanding that the great weeks will never come without a few bad weeks mixed in. I’m hopeful that this enticing Divisional Round slate can bring much more success this week. I’ll be focusing on the highest-upside plays at each position with a concentration on expected ownership – finding high-upside pivots from the players most likely to be played in big tournaments is the key to big-ticket winnings. Without further ado, let’s dive into the Divisional Round slate.
To Patrick Mahomes or not to Patrick Mahomes? That’s the big question for DraftKings this weekend as the Chiefs’ stud passer comes in at a whopping $8,000. I’m expecting him to see a massive ownership share, perhaps over 50% in some tournaments. There’s certainly a chance he surpasses 30 fantasy points in a matchup against a beatable Browns’ secondary, and the last time he faced Cleveland, in 2018, he was good for 26.8 fantasy points. However, Mahomes went under 20 fantasy points in three of his four games to close out the season, and we could see the Chiefs’ offense take a couple of quarters to heat up after taking a couple of weeks off. In order for Mahomes to really pay off at this price, he’s probably going to need to hit near 30 fantasy points, so I’m not thrilled about him as a tournament play at this price. On the other side, Baker Mayfield ($5,300) is a very enticing play after he torched Pittsburgh for 3 passing touchdowns last week. If the Chiefs offense does come out hot, Mayfield could end up needing to air out the ball to keep up, and Kansas City allowed the 10th-most fantasy points per game to QBs during the regular season. However, I’m expecting Cleveland to emphasize the run game, and Kansas City held opposing passers to just 224.2 passing yards per game over the final five weeks of the regular season.
Instead of Mahomes, I’m looking to Lamar Jackson ($7,600) and Josh Allen ($7,400) to provide strong, high-upside play. In addition to being the second and third-highest-priced passers on DraftKings, they are also likely to have the second and third-highest ownership in their matchup against one another. Keep an eye on the weather forecast, however, because snowy conditions could be enough of a reason to quickly pivot off of these players. Still, Jackson proved his massive fantasy upside last week with his 136 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground, and Buffalo’s run defense was very beatable during the regular season. The Bills allowed the 12th-most fantasy points to running backs during the regular season, and Jackson likely fits into that category just as well as he does into the QB field. Allen, meanwhile, certainly faces a tough test against a Baltimore secondary that allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to QBs during the regular season. However, it has ripped apart similarly tough defenses in the Broncos, Patriots, Dolphins, and Colts in recent weeks. Allen’s downfield accuracy and rushing baseline make him my favorite fantasy passer in this field, and I love his upside in a projected high-scoring affair.
The other quarterbacks I have my eye on are the two legends from the NFC South meeting up for the third time this season. Tom Brady ($6,300) struggled against the Saints during the regular season as he threw for just 2 touchdowns and 5 interceptions against them. The shocking Week 9 meeting ended with a minuscule 2.4 fantasy points for Brady. However, Brady has racked up 348+ passing yards in four straight games and 12 passing touchdowns to just 1 interception over that span. With Antonio Brown comfortable in the offense and Mike Evans and Chris Godwin joining him, he arguably has the best talent around him of his career, and Brady is poised to take down this defense that gave him problems earlier in the year. Drew Brees ($5,600) has had a tough season, but he has real fantasy value now, with Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas available. However, his relative lack of upside makes him a bit less intriguing, especially against a tough Tampa defense. New Orleans allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks during the regular season, but Brady’s torrid stretch, obscene surrounding talent, and expected low ownership make him an intriguing target for me.
Rounding out the available selection at the quarterback position are Aaron Rodgers ($6,900) and Jared Goff ($5,200), who are matched up in the projected lowest-scoring game of the four this week. Rodgers had a stupendous regular season that will likely earn him the MVP in which he threw for 48 touchdowns to just 5 interceptions and finished as the QB3 in fantasy. However, he’ll face his toughest test of the year against the Rams defense that held opponents to a minuscule 13.5 fantasy points per game during the regular season, the fewest in the NFL. Goff, meanwhile, has thrown for zero touchdowns to five interceptions in the two cold-weather games of his career. The Packers allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to QBs during the regular season, and the added issue of a broken thumb for Goff puts him off the radar for me in pretty much all situations.
Top plays: Josh Allen ($7,400), Lamar Jackson ($7,600), Tom Brady ($6,300), Patrick Mahomes ($8,000), Baker Mayfield ($5,300)
Alvin Kamara ($7,900) is the highest-priced running back on this week’s slate, but he draws far from an easy matchup against Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers’ run defense was the best in the NFL during the regular season as they allowed the fewest fantasy points to the RB position, the fewest rushing yards, and the fewest rushing touchdowns. Kamara has struggled (by his standards) against Tampa as he has scored just 18.9 PPR points per game in his previous five matchups with the Bucs. Kamara caught just 2 passes against the Bears last week, a low output for him as he has 81+ catches in all four of his professional seasons. He caught five passes in each of his past two games against Tampa, and that receiving production should buoy his PPR value in a tough matchup. However, with a projected high ownership and tough matchup on the horizon, I’m fading Kamara this week.
Nick Chubb ($6,600) is likely going to be my most-played running back this week as he faces Kansas City, who allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to the RB position during the regular season. Chubb scored eight touchdowns in his eight games to close out the season and has a great chance to hit paydirt in the projected highest-scoring game of the week. It was Kareem Hunt ($4,800) who scored twice for Cleveland last week, but Chubb had 22 touches to Hunt’s 9, and Chubb scored a touchdown through the air. The Browns will certainly look to emphasize the ground game to keep the ball away from Patrick Mahomes and company, and their dominant offensive line should win out against an overmatched Kansas City front seven.
J.K. Dobbins ($6,000) is also someone I have my eye on this weekend. He was held to just 9 carries for 43 yards last week, but he did score a touchdown against Tennessee. Buffalo’s run defense is very beatable as they gave up the 12th-most fantasy points to running backs during the regular season, and we know Baltimore will be looking to emphasize the rushing attack this week. Dobbins ran for 6.0 YPC during the regular season and offers tremendous upside. Cam Akers ($5,700) is the other mid-priced rookie RB I had my eye on after his breakthrough playoff effort last week. He came through with 176 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown against Seattle last week and faces a beatable Green Bay run defense that allowed the 6th-most fantasy points to running backs during the regular season. With loads of upside, strong matchups, and expected decently low ownership, Dobbins and Akers are two of my favorite RBs to play this weekend. I don’t see a real reason to go cheaper at the position than them or Hunt.
Top plays: Alvin Kamara ($7,900), Nick Chubb ($6,800), J.K. Dobbins ($6,000), Cam Akers ($5,700), Kareem Hunt ($4,800)
Along with Patrick Mahomes’s expected massive ownership, Tyreek Hill ($8,000) is likely to get close to 50% ownership in a lot of tournaments. The Browns allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to wide receivers during the regular season, and Hill finished as the WR2 in PPR scoring this season. We’ve seen him come through as one of the highest upside players in fantasy football with seven 20+ point games during the regular season, and he torched Tampa Bay in Week 12 with 13 catches for 269 yards and 3 touchdowns. If he produces like that, he’s a must-own, but it’s smart to pivot off him in some lineups with the expected high ownership. Sammy Watkins ($4,800) and Mecole Hardman ($3,900) aren’t strong targets against the Browns’ Denzel Ward and Terrance Mitchell on the perimeter.
Davante Adams ($8,800) is the only wide receiver priced higher than Hill, but he’s likely to maintain high ownership despite a brutal matchup against the Rams, who allowed the fewest fantasy points to wide receivers during the regular season. Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams provide Adams his toughest test of the season, and I’m fading him in most spots. On the other side of the ball, I’m avoiding Robert Woods ($5,900) and Cooper Kupp ($5,300) in most formats with the combination of a tough matchup against Green Bay, Jared Goff’s injury, and his historic production (or lack thereof) in similar weather conditions.
Stefon Diggs ($7,300) is the wide receiver I’m most likely to spend up for this week. His ownership should trend a little lower in a tough matchup against the Ravens’ secondary that allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers during the regular season. However, Diggs is seemingly matchup-proof as he came through with 25+ fantasy points in three of the team’s last four regular-season games despite some difficult matchups in that stretch. He should continue to exceed expectations, and I’m willing to bet on him being the WR1 on the week. The Allen-Diggs stack is my favorite this week. Gabriel Davis ($4,000) was the second-highest-scoring Bills receiver last week, and while he also faces a tough matchup and part-time role, his talent is obvious at this point. He provides a ton of upside at this price.
The Saints-Buccaneers game could the place to look for value at wide receiver with none of the top options expected to carry a high ownership percentage. Mike Evans ($6,400) is my least favorite of the group with his recent injuries as well as historic production against Marshon Lattimore. Antonio Brown ($5,400) is still massively underpriced and has arguably become the top target in the offense with 315 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns over his past four games. Chris Godwin ($6,100) is also expected to carry low ownership and faces a very beatable Chauncy Gardner-Johnson in the slot. Tom Brady threw for 381 yards last week against an arguably tougher Washington pass defense, and he’s been on a tear lately. There should be enough passing production from multiple of these receivers to carry a strong fantasy upside.
On the other side of the ball, Michael Thomas ($6,700) is an enticing option as he looked to be back to his All-Pro caliber play with 5-73-1 last week. In 2019, he surpassed 25 PPR points in each of his two games with the Buccaneers, so I see a huge upside for him this week. Emmanuel Sanders ($4,500) offers strong upside, as well, as Tampa has been generous to pass-catchers over the second half of the season.
Top plays: Tyreek Hill ($8,000), Stefon Diggs ($7,300), Michael Thomas ($6,700), Chris Godwin ($6,100), Antonio Brown ($5,400), Emmanuel Sanders ($4,500), Gabriel Davis ($4,000)
Travis Kelce ($7,800) is the obvious heavy hitter at this position as he was the TE1 by a landslide with 105 catches for 1,416 yards and 11 touchdowns during the regular season. That high price tag guarantees that his ownership won’t get out of control as many fantasy players are hesitant to spend up at this position and the Browns surrendered the 5th-most fantasy points to tight ends during the regular season. Kelce provides massive upside and a strong baseline and is well worth spending up for. Mark Andrews ($5,000) is the other big-ticket tight end, and he gets a very favorable matchup against the Bills, who allowed the 8th-most fantasy points to the position during the regular season. If you’re looking to play Lamar Jackson in an expected high-scoring game, Andrews is the red-zone, big-play threat you want to stack him with.
Robert Tonyan ($4,200) scored 11 receiving touchdowns during the regular season, and the Rams’ defense has been closer to middle-of-the-pack against tight ends as they’ve been dominant against wide receivers. Tonyan is arguably Aaron Rodgers’s second-best target in the passing game, and he’s one of the few Packers’ players I’m high on this week. Jared Cook ($4,000) provides massive upside against a Bucs defense that allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to the tight end position during the regular season as he’s the top red-zone target for Drew Brees. Austin Hooper ($3,800) is also worth considering as the Browns’ wide receivers have been inconsistent this season, and Hooper is arguably Baker Mayfield’s second-best pass-catcher after Jarvis Landry. The Chiefs allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to tight ends during the regular season.
If you’re looking to punt tight end, there are a few solid options this week. David Njoku ($2,600) is a decent target in a plus matchup against the Chiefs with touchdown upside in the highest-scoring game of the weekend. Dawson Knox ($3,100) scored a touchdown last week, but he’s pretty unreliable with how many other pass-catching weapons there are in Buffalo. Cameron Brate ($2,900) caught 4 passes for 80 yards last week, and the Saints allowed the 14th-most fantasy points to tight ends during the regular season.
Top plays: Travis Kelce ($7,800), Mark Andrews ($5,000), Robert Tonyan ($4,200), Jared Cook ($4,000), Austin Hooper ($3,800), Dawson Knox ($3,100), Cameron Brate ($2,900), David Njoku ($2,600)
As we get closer to the Super Bowl, only top-tier offenses remain for the most part. That makes the DST position a challenge in DFS. The Packers’ defense ($3,900) should be able to exploit a struggling Jared Goff in cold weather conditions, but their likely high ownership percentage is a bit dissuading. The Rams ($2,600) are the best defense remaining in the field, and I’m intrigued by them at that price point, even against the Packers. The Buccaneers ($3,100) are possibly my favorite play in the field with their stellar front seven. Their ownership is expected to below, and while the Saints aren’t a turnover-prone offense, Tampa could rack up some sacks this week. The Saints ($3,300) are also an obvious play as they held the Bucs to just 13 points per game. New Orleans had six sacks and six takeaways in those games, as well as a defensive touchdown.
Top plays: Green Bay Packers ($3,900), New Orleans Saints ($3,300), Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($3,100), Los Angeles Rams ($2,600)
QB: Josh Allen $7,400
RB: Nick Chubb $6,600
RB: J.K. Dobbins $6,000
WR: Stefon Diggs $7,300
WR: Antonio Brown $5,400
WR: Gabriel Davis $4,000
TE: Mark Andrews $5,000
FLEX: Cam Akers $5,700
DST: Rams $2,600
QB: Patrick Mahomes $8,000
RB: Alvin Kamara $7,900
RB: Cam Akers $5,700
WR: Tyreek Hill $8,000
WR: Emmanuel Sanders $4,500
WR: Rashard Higgins $4,100
TE: Austin Hooper $3,800
FLEX: Kareem Hunt $4,800
DST: Buccaneers $3,100