NFL DEEP DIVE – DIVISIONAL WEEKEND
Eight teams are left which means we have another 4-game slate to breakdown for the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs. Since it is a somewhat small slate I am going to briefly breakdown game by game as well by position:
Falcons at Eagles – Falcons -3, O/U 41
The Falcons fresh off a wildcard weekend win vs the Rams are road favorites against the top seed Eagles who everyone knows are Wentz-less. Losing your stud QB obviously is always a huge blow, but Nick Foles is a legit backup QB and the Eagles at home should make this a back and forth game. Not a great one for fantasy purposes, but the game I am most interested in watching.
Titans at Patriots – Patriots -13.5, O/U 47
Second Saturday game is one that may lack drama late as the Patriots are basically two touchdown favorites at home vs the Titans. Hard to see many ways that the Titans can hang in the game, but targets on both sides make this an appealing one and a game that I will have plenty of exposure to this week.
Jaguars at Steelers – Steelers -7.5, O/U 40.5
Jaguars beat the Steelers during the season, but you assume the Steelers will not be taking them lightly here. Although the Jags won last week it did not look too impressive with Bortles having some awful stretches leading that offense. Another game that is probably more interesting to watch than target, but the main weapons on both teams certainly are in the discussion to be on some rosters.
Saints at Vikings – Vikings -4, O/U 45.5
We close out the slate with a good one as the Saints travel up to Minnesota to take on the Vikings. It is a tough matchup for the Saints offense, but the game still should provide us some reasonable DFS targets. Like last week we will have to try and find value everywhere we can, which can lead to rostering some guys we do not feel great about.
Before we jump into the plays, let’s take a look at some relevant stats for this week. Here is some of the information I use to guide my research each week including the Super Premium Pro Football Focus defense efficiency rankings. ~ Ben
Note: Stats are listed for this week’s playoff teams.
Implied Totals: New England (31.0), Minnesota (25.8), Pittsburgh (24.0), Atlanta (22.0), New Orleans (20.8), Philadelphia (19.0), Tennessee (17.5), Jacksonville (17.0)
Pro Football Focus Rankings Metric
Top Run Defenses: Minnesota (1st), Tennessee (4th), Jacksonville (5th), Atlanta (7th), Philadelphia (11th), New Orleans (12nd), Pittsburgh (16th), New England (17th)
Top Pass Defenses: Jacksonville (1st), Atlanta (4th), Minnesota (5th), Philadelphia (7th), New England (11th), New Orleans (12nd), Pittsburgh (16th), Tennessee (17th)
Defense RuYD/G (Fewest): Philadelphia (79.2), Minnesota (83.6), Tennessee (88.8), Atlanta (104.1), Pittsburgh (105.8), New Orleans (111.7), New England (114.8), Jacksonville (116.3)
Defense PaYD/G (Fewest): Jacksonville (169.9), Minnesota (192.4), Pittsburgh (201.1), Atlanta (214.3), New Orleans (224.8), Philadelphia (227.3), Tennessee (239.3), New England (251.3)
Tom Brady – NE vs TEN (DK-$7000, FDraft-$13900) – Yes, this is leading off with the most expensive QB on the slate, but there is good reason. Brady and the Patriots are at home and heavy favorites against the Titans whose defense is nothing to really worry about. Brady certainly has the highest floor of any QB on the slate, and if I can afford him I will pay up and take some risks at the skill positions.
Marcus Mariota – TEN at NE (DK-$5900, FDraft – $10600) – We just talked about Brady on the other side of this game, but Mariota is also in play as a salary saving QB play. The Patriots should be leading throughout, forcing the Titans to play catchup which benefits Mariota. We saw last week he can contribute with his legs (don’t expect anymore receptions) which really boosts that floor and I like Mariota as an alternative to Brady if you are trying to spend down.
LeVeon Bell – PIT vs JAX (DK-$9600, FDraft – $17900) – If I go and spend up for one of the Steelers elite weapons I would lean towards Bell, despite this expensive salary. He should push for 30 touches and the way he is involved in the passing game gives him a floor that is simply at a different level from anyone else on the slate. Jags are clearly no pushover, but the way to attack them is on the ground and Bell is a guy I will try and make room for on some of my teams.
Leonard Fournette – JAX at PIT (DK-$6900, FDraft – $12000) – There is a lot of risk here, but with a limited slate and a few teams having tough time share situations we can look to Fournette as a possibly under owned target. Last week he was ineffective, but still saw 21 carries and 5 targets and that I expect to only increase in a game where they are going to have to score some points to keep up. The way Bortles looked last week the Jags are going to have to force feed the ball to Fournette and hope that he can be effective on ground, putting him in the discussion for a RB spot this week.
Jay Ajayi – PHI vs ATL (DK-$4600, FDraft – $9900) – Keep an eye on news between now and game time, as any indication of how the Eagles will use their stable of backs will be helpful. I am willing to take a shot on Ajayi and hope that he gets the lions share since his price gives him a ton of upside if that is the case. If it is more of a timeshare then Ajayi is certainly riskier, but still in play as I think the Eagles still give him enough touches to make an impact.
Also Consider – Dion Lewis vs TEN, Alvin Kamara at MIN
Julio Jones – ATL at PHI (DK-$7900, FDraft- $15100) – With Antonio Brown drawing the Jaguars we have Julio in the best spot of all the elite WR’s on this slate. The Falcons gave him 10 targets last week and he responded with a 9/94/1 line which is exactly what we are looking for at this price. The Eagles defense is solid, but with so many other receivers in brutal matchups it makes sense to take Julio when paying up at WR.
Brandin Cooks – NE vs TEN (DK-$7000, FDraft- $12900) – You have a few options of guys you can pair up with Brady, and Cooks is certainly at the top of the homerun upside list. I would not go there in cash, but Cooks has shown his ability to have a big week and a home matchup against Tennessee seems like a spot where he could have a big day. We will get to Gronk who also makes sense, but Cooks is certainly in play this week.
Alshon Jeffery – PHI vs ATL (DK-$5500, FDraft – $10700) – Great price and a guy I was playing a bunch during the season, but obviously everything has changed with Foles under center. Still, I expect Alshon to see a bunch of targets in a solid matchup vs the Falcons secondary. The price really makes him appealing as you are not relying on him to lead your team and gives you flexibility to spend up elsewhere.
Also Consider – Dede Westbrook at PIT, Adam Thielen vs NO
Rob Gronkowski – NE vs TEN (DK-$7100, FDraft – $13300) – Gronk is the clear #1 tight end on the slate, but rostering him may be difficult unless you are spending down somewhere else. The Titans, like most teams, have nobody who can really slow him down and the Patriots fresh off a bye week should be fresh and ready to roll. I will try and make room for Gronk where I can, it will mostly depend on how much value I can find at other positions.
Also Consider – Delanie Walker at NE
Steelers (DK-$3800, FDraft – $7000) – Expensive, but they get Bortles who showed last week that he still has some issues leading the offense. Jaguars were fortunate that they could lean on the defense and were not forced to throw much, but if they fall behind this week Bortles will have to try and lead them back. Steelers should have a field day if Bortles is dropping back early and often giving them big upside in this spot.
Eagles (DK-2600, FDraft -$5900) – Nice discount for a defense that is still a very solid unit and playing at home. I know the Eagles are certainly not the team they were with Wentz, but I still expect them to compete and have a chance to get a win this week which makes a cheap unit like this appealing.
Good luck everyone!
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