Jeff Mans guides us through all things playoff fantasy football. Whether it be league play or DFS NFL Wild Card Round action, be prepared to add to that bankroll!
Nothing good ever truly ends. I told you this in the Week 17 Cash Game Breakdown, and hopefully, now you know what I meant. Just because the 2019 NFL regular season has come to an end, it doesn’t mean that our opportunities to make significant profits from the football season have. We’ve got several opportunities starting this week to pad our bankrolls. Here are a few things to do this postseason to grab your share of these proceeds:
PLAYOFF FANTASY FOOTBALL
I could sit here and explain to you all of the types of postseason fantasy football leagues that you could set up or join, but my guy Armando Marsal already did this for our Fantasy Guru subscribers this week, as you can read here.
Elite Mafia Playoff League
For each of the past four seasons, I’ve run these playoff leagues that are by invitation only. Ideally, I’d like to have 100 of our most dedicated Elite Mafia members and Fantasy Guru/Elite Fantasy/Elite Sports Betting subscribers compete against one another for a bevy of prizes. This year is no different, as this league is already filling up as you read this. If you think that you have what it takes or just want to be in, hit me and Ted Schuster up in the Elite Fantasy, Fantasy Guru NFL Chat Room or on Twitter @Jeff_Mans & @TedSchuster.
All players from teams still alive in the NFL Playoffs are available to all teams each week. Franchise owners select a starting lineup from this player pool each week, but each player can only be used ONE TIME through the duration of the playoffs.
You will receive an email invitation to join the league. If you do not accept this invitation and log into the league in a reasonable amount of time, your spot will be dumped back into the pool and awarded to somebody else.
Scoring: Full point PPR
Lineup: 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR,
1 TE, 1 FLEX (RB/WR/TE)
Standings: Total points scoring only
1st – $50
2nd – $30
3rd – $20
4th – Elite Mafia T-Shirt
5th – Elite Mafia T-Shirt
6th – Elite Mafia T-Shirt
7th – Month of DFS NBA or NHL Content or Opto
8th – Month of DFS NBA or NHL Content or Opto
9th – Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide
10th – Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide
Daily Fantasy Football
This is likely what you came here for in the first place, right? Of course, there is DFS NFL this postseason, and of course, we are on top of it here at Elite Fantasy. No, I will not be writing a Cash Game Breakdown for the playoffs.
The fact of the matter is, with just four games per week over these first two weeks of the postseason, there simply isn’t a true cash game experience for us. Normally, we can build a zero-fat lineup based on a tremendous amount of research and matchup breakdowns. But with one, two and four-game slates, this allows even the most casual of DFS players to do a proper amount of research. Thus, our cash game edge is all but obliterated.
Now, I still strongly recommend the single entry 50/50 contests even in the postseason. These contests offer you the best opportunity to win, plain and simple. So, if you are new to DFS, have been struggling to win this season and/or are on a very strict budget, these are still the right contests for you.
Personally, I will be playing almost exclusively in GPP’s (tournaments) throughout the playoffs. What’s more, I will likely be building multiple lineups each week as well; something I rarely do during the regular season. Please understand, I do this with the full intention of not winning a single dollar that I put in back. Tournaments are very difficult and offer super high paylines and a limited number of payouts. If you are on a budget, don’t follow my lead in contest selection during the postseason.
What irritates me the most about the DFS slates is that my home site, FanDuel, decided to split up the four games of the weekend into multiple two-game slates. So, we have a Saturday slate and a Sunday slate. Blah.
Fortunately, both DraftKings and my new favorite site, SuperDraft, have huge tournaments available to us that include all four games of the NFL weekend. Even though I prefer the half-point pricing and half-point PPR scoring on FanDuel, I’m going to have to spread out my play more as a result.
So, for this writeup, I have decided to parcel it down to a game-by-game format. Of course, I will still provide you with my core four, but this way you will also get some of my deeper dive plays along with the analysis behind them.
The Wild Card Round features some very intriguing matchups, including five of the top eight scoring offenses in the NFL this season. Can the Buffalo Bills shut down Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins in Houston? Will the NFL’s leading rusher Derrick Henry stomp all over the Patriots dynasty and send Tom Brady into retirement? Is the return of Dalvin Cook enough to keep the Minnesota Vikings competitive in New Orleans? Can Carson Wentz get his first career playoff win at home against Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks?
All of the answers you seek can be found here in this week writeup, so let’s get to it!
Here is the DFS NFL Postseason Writeup for the Wild Card Round:
Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans – 4:35pm ET
Spread: Texans -2.5
Point Total: 44
- BILLS – Shaq Lawson, DE (hamstring), Ty Nsekhe, LT (ankle), Levi Wallace, CB (ankle) & Andre Roberts (foot) are all QUESTIONABLE.
- TEXANS – JJ Watt, DE & Kenny Stills are PROBABLE. Jordan Akins (hamstring), Will Fuller, WR (groin), Jonathan Joseph, CB (hamstring) & Bradley Roby, CB (hamstring) are QUESTIONABLE.
Matchups To Exploit
- Bills – The Bills were sixth in rushing attempts and eighth in rushing yards during the regular season. The Texans defense surrender the sixth-most rushing yards per attempt. QB Josh Allen is the Bills’ biggest weapon, especially in the red-zone, as he led the team in rushing TD’s with nine. The Texans’ defense gave up the seventh-most rushing TD’s and ninth-most rushing TD’s to QB’s this season. The best matchup for the Bills receivers is John Brown, who will be matched up against injured CB Jonathan Joseph. PFF rates the Texans secondary as the third-worst in pass coverage in the NFL this season.
- Texans – It’s going to be tough sledding for the Texans offense this week, as the Bills’ defense surrenders the second-fewest points, third-fewest yards and is top five in overall DVOA, pass coverage, passing yards per game, passing yards per attempt and total fantasy points allowed in 2019. The Texans will find it easier to run against the Bills, meaning RB Carlos Hyde will be a pivotal player for this offense this week.
Best Plays (DK Pricing)
- John Brown, WR, Bills ($6000)
- Will Fuller, WR, Texans ($4900)
- Carlos Hyde, RB, Texans ($5100)
- Buffalo Bills, DST ($3100)
- Deshaun Watson, QB, Texans ($6400)
Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots – 8:15 pm ET
Spread: Patriots -5
Point Total: 44.5
- TITANS – Adam Humphries, WR (ankle) is OUT. Kalif Raymond, WR (concussion) & Cody Hollister, WR (ankle) are QUESTIONABLE.
- PATRIOTS – Julian Edelman, WR (shoulder), Jason McCourty, CB (groin), Jonathan Jones, CB (groin) & Jamie Collins, LB (shoulder) are QUESTIONABLE.
Matchups To Exploit
- Titans – The Titans whipped the ass of the Patriots 34-10 back in Week 10 of 2018. Head coach Mike Vrabel played for the Patriots from 2001-2008 and knows the New England systems quite well as a result. The Titans are fourth in percentage of running plays, third in rushing yards per game and third in rushing yards per attempt. While the Patriots defense has been great against the pass, ranking first in the league at DVOA against the pass, overall DVOA, total yards against, passing yards against, passing yards per attempt and pass coverage according to PFF, the Patriots are “only” 11th against the run according to PFF and have surrendered the 14th most rushing yards per attempt this season. This sets up to be a huge Derrick Henry game once again, as the NFL’s leading rusher had 2 TD’s in the Titans blowout win against the Patriots last season.
- Patriots – The Patriots offense has been fading in the second half of the season. Tom Brady specifically looks sluggish, as the Patriots had the fifth-most pass attempts in the NFL this season yet only threw for the 10th most passing yards and 19th highest passing yards per attempt. It gets even worse when the Pats get into the red zone, as they own the seventh-worst red zone conversion rate in the NFL this season (Titans are #1). The Tennessee CB’s have trouble with deeper passing plays, but neither Tom Brady nor his WR’s possess the capability of punishing this deficiency.
- Derrick Henry, RB, Titans ($8200)
- Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots ($6500)
- Jonnu Smith, TE, Titans ($3800)
- N’Keal Harry, WR, Patriots ($4100)
- New England Patriots, DST ($3400)
Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints – 1:05 pm ET
Spread: Saints -7.5
Point Total: 49.5
- VIKINGS – Michael Hughes, CB (neck), Mackensie Alexander, CB (knee) are OUT. Ifeadi Odenigbo, DE (hamstring) is QUESTIONABLE.
- SAINTS – Eli Apple, CB (ankle) & Zach Line, FB (knee) are OUT.
Matchups To Exploit
- Vikings – The Vikings finished the regular season fourth in rushing attempts, sixth in rushing yards and 12th in rushing yards per attempt. Dalvin Cook, who is now healthy, was 10th in the NFL in rushing this season. But the Saints are extremely tough against the run, as they finished fifth in DVOA against the run and fifth-best in rushing yards allowed. The Vikings will have to throw to beat the Saints, and with Stefon Diggs shadowed by Marshon Lattimore, that leaves Adam Thielen – who will line up opposite of the struggling Eli Apple – as Minnesota’s best chance for success. Kirk Cousins has thrown for 322+ yards in each of his three career starts against the Saints. He has averaged 25.9 fantasy points against New Orleans in his career.
- Saints – New Orleans was third in points scored this season but did so in a crazy efficient manner. They were next to last in pace of play, 21st in total offensive plays, 16th in rushing yards and seventh in passing yards this season. Like the Saints, the Vikings were tough to run against this year, ranking ninth in DVOA against the run and ninth in rushing yards per game allowed. But over their last five games of the regular season, they allowed an average of 138 rushing yards per game. The Vikings secondary somehow graded out third-best in pass coverage, according to PFF, but this is a unit that really struggled down the stretch. Michael Thomas should be able to carve up Xavier Rhodes, who finished the season 180th out of 207 cornerbacks in coverage, according to PFF.
- Alvin Kamara, RB, Saints ($7400)
- Drew Brees, QB, Saints ($6600)
- Adam Thielen, WR, Vikings ($6200)
- Latavius Murray, RB, Saints ($5000)
- Michael Thomas, WR, Saints ($9300)
Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles – 4:40 pm ET
Spread: Seahawks -2
Point Total: 45.5
- SEAHAWKS – Duane Brown, LT (knee), Marvin Kendricks, LB (knee) & Malik Turner, WR, (concussion) are OUT. Jaron Brown, WR (knee) and Mike Iupati, G (neck) are QUESTIONABLE.
- EAGLES – Nelson Agholor, WR (knee) is OUT. Zach Ertz, TE (ribs) & Lane Johnson, RT (ankle) are QUESTIONABLE.
Matchups To Exploit
- Seahawks – The Seahawks are a heavy running offense, ranking third in rush attempts, fourth in rushing yards and 10th in rushing yards per attempt. With both Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny out for the season though, they are going to likely rely on veteran RB Marshawn Lynch to carry the load in the playoffs. It won’t be easy to run on the Eagles, who were fourth in DVOA against the run this season and allowed the fourth-least rushing yards per game. The way to beat the Eagles is through the air so it is going to have to be a Russell Wilson and receivers’ game. The Eagles have given up the fourth-most fantasy points to WR’s this season. DK Metcalf has a terrific matchup, going opposite Eagles CB Rasul Douglas, who ranks 168th out of 207 CB’s according to PFF this season.
- Eagles – No NFL team ran more offensive plays than the Philadelphia Eagles this season. They finished seventh in rush attempts and eighth in pass attempts while not proving to be overly efficient at either. The Seahawks surrendered the seventh-most rushing yards per game and the fifth-most rushing yards per attempt this season. The Eagles now have three capable RB’s in Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard and Boston Scott, who could lead a heavy run attack against the Seahawks this week.
- DK Metcalf, WR, Seahawks ($6100)
- Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks ($6800)
- Dallas Goedert, TE, Eagles ($5200)
- Tyler Lockett, WR, Seahawks ($7200)
- Miles Sanders, RB, Eagles ($6200)
DFS NFL Wild Card Round Position-by-Position
- Drew Brees, Saints – The Saints have the highest expected total and are at home at eight-point favorites this week. This will likely be the Saints only home game of the playoffs so it’s a great time to use Brees where he averaged 333 passing yards per game and had an amazing 17-3 TD-INT ratio this season. Brees threw for 150 more yards per game at home than on the road this season. The Vikings secondary has been ravaged lately, specifically CB’s Xavier Rhodes & Trae Waynes.
- Russell Wilson, Seahawks – Backup running backs, a banged-up offensive line and a road game against the NFL’s fourth-best rushing defense is not a good path to take for the Seahawks RB’s this week. This is going to be a “Russell Wilson save us” type of game where he has a very good chance of being not only the Seahawks’ leading passer but rusher too. The Eagles secondary will be without Ronald Darby again, giving Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf plus matchups this week. Some folks will back away from Russ because of the mediocre stat line he posted in Week 12 against the Eagles so this provides a real good opportunity to get him at a much lower ownership cost than he should be given the matchup.
- Kirk Cousins, Vikings – Not a single human being or projection model is expecting the Vikings to beat or even be competitive against the Saints this week. Assuming the Saints get out to a big lead, this will force the Vikings to air it out more than they want to and builds the fantasy production of Cousins. Cousins has always had success against the Saints throughout his career, averaging 335 yards passing and 25.9 fantasy points per game. We won’t get many 5% owned QB’s this weekend so here is a real path to top-level production and ultra-low ownership.
- Alvin Kamara, Saints – A super talented back, dual-threat capabilities, offense with the highest expected total, favored by over a touchdown and underpriced considering it’s just a four-game slate. Kamara is pretty much a no-brainer in all DFS lineups this week, as fading him could certainly be a death sentence. Though he had a very up and down regular season, Kamara rushed for four touchdowns and accumulated 167 total yards on just 27 total touches over the final two weeks. He has 3 TD’s in two career starts against the Vikings.
- Derrick Henry, Titans – If you think the Titans are going to beat the Patriots, there really is no way to accomplish that without a big game from the NFL’s leading rusher, Derrick Henry. He’s always a risk because he doesn’t catch many passes, but the way to beat the Patriots is on the ground. In the Titans 34-10 victory over the Patriots last season, Henry averaged 5.3 YPC and scored two rushing TD’s against them. He’s expensive, and he will be very highly owned this week as well.
- James White, Patriots – Some lengthy film study this week showed me the Titans have real problems in pass coverage. Their safety play is perhaps the worst in the league at selling out to stop the run and thereby giving up big passing chunks. Normally, this would benefit the outside receivers, but the Patriots don’t have the QB to get the ball outside, so we will have to sort my most likely occurrence. If the Patriots fall behind, it’s all James White and Julian Edelman in the passing game. If the Titans put a safety on White, they will audible to runs on the edges with him. In order to get a lead on Tennessee, I am suspecting we will see a big play from Brady to White on a wheel or HB circle route, depending on which part of the field they want to attack. Rex Burkhead would make a super contrarian option here as well, and I’m fine using him if you wanted to get different.
- Miles Sanders, Eagles – Sanders is the biggest weapon in the Eagles offense at this point in time, and even though he is banged up, he is going to not only tough it out but likely have the most touches on the team once again. The Seahawks are having serious trouble stopping the run and allowed the second-most rushing TD’s in the NFL this season. The ankle injury will likely drive some people away and force those using optimizers to diminish their shares as well.
- Latavius Murray, Saints – Come playoff time, we have to start embracing things such as revenge game narratives and game flow expectations. Both of these favor Murray, who was with the Vikings each of the last two seasons. Murray averaged 12 touches per game down the stretch, and if the Saints get off to the big league that many of us expect, he would easily see 15+ touches and a great chance for a TD as well.
- Carlos Hyde, Texans – Hyde is probably the least talked about RB in the four-game slate. What’s strange about Hyde’s season is that the tougher the matchup, the better he seemed to do from a fantasy standpoint. His six rushing TD’s this season came against the Chargers, Falcons, Chiefs, Ravens, Titans and Buccaneers. The Bills are one of the best defenses in the NFL this season but are very mediocre against the run where they rank 18th in both rushing yards allowed and rushing yards per attempt.
WORST COVERAGE CORNERBACKS – WR MATCHUP (Mans Model, By YOUR Request)
- P.J. Williams, Saints → Olabisi Johnson, Vikings *Janoris Jenkins could mix in at slot CB too
- Eli Apple, Saints → Adam Thielen, Vikings
- Rasul Douglas, Eagles → DK Metcalf, Seahawks
- Xavier Rhodes, Vikings → Michael Thomas, Saints
- Tre Flowers, Seahawks → Robert Davis, Eagles
- Vernon Hargreaves, Texans → Cole Beasley, Bills
- Avonte Maddox, Eagles → Tyler Lockett, Seahawks
- Gareon Conley, Texans → Isaiah McKenzie, Bills
- Trae Waynes, Vikings → Tre’Quan Smith, Saints
- Tramaine Brock, Titans → Mohamed Sanu, Patriots
- Michael Thomas, Saints – You just cannot go wrong with the NFL’s single-season record holder for receptions. In two games against the Vikings in 2018, Thomas went for 19-12-166-2 against Minnesota. He was the #1 scoring fantasy WR by over 100 points this season and doesn’t share targets with anybody here in New Orleans. He’s expensive, will be very heavily owned but also the surest thing on the entire board for this four-game slate on Wild Card weekend.
- Tyler Lockett, Seahawks – I really don’t know if Lockett will be popular, but he certainly should be. The Eagles secondary is banged up and has given up an average of 264 passing yards over their last five games against the Giants (twice), Cowboys, Redskins and Dolphins. Lockett will line up against Avonte Maddox most of the time on Sunday, which is the fifth-best CB matchup according to PFF.
- Julian Edelman, Patriots – It is widely known the way to beat the Titans is by throwing the football, but can the Patriots actually attack this secondary? Edelman is the weapon most used here and the only receiver Tom Brady is comfortable with on the field. I am a bit concerned about the shoulder injury he’s been playing through the last three weeks. Edelman has just 18 targets, 10 receptions and 107 total receiving yards since injuring himself against the Chiefs in Week 14. He’s pretty safe, but there is more risk here than usual with Edelman.
- John Brown, Bills – Brown had the ninth-highest target share at 25.7% this season and is the only viable receiving threat for the Bills. The Texans’ secondary has been mix and match all season long, as they rated as the third-worst coverage in the NFL according to PFF, seventh-worst DVOA against the pass and eighth-most receiving TD’s to WR’s this season.
- N’Keal Harry, Patriots – Harry is only playing about 55% of snaps for the Patriots, which should keep him off some of the more casual DFS player’s radar. But the rookie WR is the absolute prototype of what the Tennessee Titans have trouble with, and that is tall, athletic outside receivers. There is no doubt in my mind that Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels have identified this and will get Harry in one-on-one matchups outside against former Cardinals CB Tramaine Brock. I really like Harry this week mostly for his TD upside in an offense that won’t be heavily invested in this week.
- DK Metcalf, Seahawks – In Week 12, the Seahawks and Eagles played a super boring, low scoring game that ended in a 17-9 Seattle win. Metcalf saw the most targets of all Seahawks WR’s in that game, though, he only generated a 6-3-35-0 line. But the rookie WR has become a major weapon for Russell Wilson down the stretch, catching TD’s in two of the Seahawks last three games. He caught 7 TD’s total this year, demonstrating his upside considering the Seahawks were just 23rd in pass attempts in 2019.
- Adam Thielen, Vikings – Stefon Diggs will be battling with stud CB Marshon Lattimore all day long, leaving Thielen free against both Eli Apple when he lines up outside and either P.J. Williams or Janoris Jenkins when he is in the slot. Thielen has a 26-22-111-1 stat line in three career games against the Saints. Minnesota will be playing from behind most of the game so this game script sets up perfectly for Thielen this week.
- Tre’Quan Smith, Saints – We have to figure Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer will gameplan to do anything in his power to shut down Michael Thomas. Whether that works or not is a completely different argument. But if Thomas is slowed down at all, it will likely benefit Tre’Quan Smith the most of anybody on the Saints. Smith has been playing the second-most snaps of any New Orleans receiver this season and is matched up against my #9 worst CB of the week in Trae Waynes.
- Greg Ward, Eagles – The Eagles simply have no other receiving options other than Ward and Dallas Goedert for this week. Ward has been leading the Eagles receivers in targets every week since Week 12 and is averaging seven targets and five receptions per game since being activated. Assuming the Seahawks don’t shadow him (they won’t), he will see backup CB Ugo Amadi. Amadi was CB #92 (out of 203) on PFF this season in pass coverage and has had trouble with smaller receivers like Ward.
- Corey Davis, Titans – Both Davis and Tajae Sharpe are in play against the Patriots here this week, as we would like to avoid the Stephon Gillmore shadow of A.J. Brown. It won’t be an easy road against “other” CB JC Jackson, but as New England aligns their defense to stop the running of Derrick Henry, more single coverage opens up outside. Last year, Davis went for 10-7-125-1 against the Patriots in Tennessee’s 34-10 win.
- Dallas Goedert, Eagles – An autoplay here, as I really do not expect Zach Ertz to play after suffering a lacerated kidney two weeks ago. He actually generated an 8-7-32-0 stat line with Ertz active against the Seahawks back in Week 12. In that game, Ertz also tallied a 14-12-91-1 line. There isn’t another TE on the slate that can come close to touching both the floor or the ceiling projection of Dallas Goedert this week. If you lock button any one player, make it him.
- Jared Cook, Saints – The second-best option at TE, Cook has really been on a tear down the stretch of the regular season. He wound up with 9 TD’s on the season but scored five of them over the last four games. It’s pretty much roulette as far as which Saints receiver winds up with the second-most points to Michael Thomas this week. Cook is as likely as anyone to generate a positive fantasy outing here.
- Matt LaCosse, Patriots – You could make a case for Ben Watson too, but I will side with LaCosse, who plays more snaps and runs just as many routes as Watson when he is on the field. The Titans have given up the seventh-most receiving yards, third-most TD’s and fifth-most fantasy points to TE’s this season.
- New England Patriots
- New Orleans Saints
- Houston Texans
- Minnesota Vikings
DFS NFL WILD CARD ROUND LINEUP BUILDS
Since this is a GPP (tournament) slate, that means it is a time to build multiple lineups. With that in mind, there are no players who are just completely off-limits to us here. It’s all about reading all three game scripts, interpreting them and using the players who will most execute those scripts best.
In keeping with my usual “Core 4” theme, let’s go over four lineup builds I will be using. I’m planning on playing about four to eight total lineups in this slate.
Core Four #1
- QB – Drew Brees, Saints
- RB – Alvin Kamara, Saints
- WR – DK Metcalf, Seahawks
- TE – Dallas Goedert, Eagles
Core Four #2
- QB – Drew Brees, Saints
- RB – Derrick Henry, Titans
- WR – N’Keal Harry, Patriots
- TE – Dallas Goedert, Eagles
Core Four #3
- QB – Russell Wilson, Seahawks
- RB – Miles Sanders, Eagles
- WR – DK Metcalf, Seahawks
- TE – Dallas Goedert, Eagles
Core Four #4
- QB – Kirk Cousins, Vikings
- RB – Alvin Kamara, Saints
- WR – Adam Thielen, Vikings
- TE – Dallas Goedert, Eagles
Check out our Ownership Projections for the DFS NFL Wild Card Round