The divisional round of games promise to be higher-scoring and perhaps even more exciting than the Wild Card round. Much has to do with the fact that the four top-seeded teams feature prolific offenses, but it also has to do with how the matchups are laid out this weekend.
The divisional round of games promise to be higher-scoring and perhaps even more exciting than the Wild Card round. Much has to do with the fact that the four top-seeded teams feature prolific offenses, but it also has to do with how the matchups are laid out this weekend. Our first game on Saturday (Colts-Chiefs) has a whopping 57 implied total points and figures to be a barn-burner. The Cowboys-Rams nightcap is one to pay close attention to injury news on this week; particularly with running back Todd Gurley and if he’ll be at all limited. Either way, C.J. Anderson’s efficiency while filling in illustrates how the Rams didn’t have to adjust much offensively and it likely won’t affect our pass-catchers in this one.
The Chargers-Patriots game on Sunday may be the closest thing we have to a defensive battle (47 implied points is our lowest total), though a matchup between old-man stud QBs (Rivers and Brady) should make this a fun one to watch, albeit, our least viable WR candidates. Finally, there is very little chance of the Eagles getting routed by the Saints by 40-plus again, but our eight-point spread is the largest of the weekend. We should see plenty of chalk among some of the WR options in this weekend finale.
With plenty of time before these games start, the best thing you can do is as much of your own homework on matchups as you can. Dig into PFF for WR/CB and OL/DL matchups. Keep up with who isn’t practicing and who may miss the game. Look back at historical betting trends and data with the teams involved. Most importantly, project out stats and how you see these games flowing. Our margin for error on a four-game slate is tight and anything less than optimal just won’t cut it.
I’ll cover pricing and options for DK, FD and Y! here. Salaries will be listed for each player in that order.
T.Y. Hilton, Colts ($6,700, $7,900, $22) – In the Wild Card game against the Texans, Hilton did his duty early with a couple of big catches, but was quiet in the second half as the Colts had a hefty lead and did not need to pass. He finished with a 5-for-85 line on 10 targets and we should easily expect a more proficient outing against the Chiefs with this high implied total and expected game flow where Andrew Luck may well have to throw 40 times. Hilton may not have the red zone prowess of bulldozing teammate Eric Ebron but he will be Luck’s go-to guy down the field. Hilton is hands-down the best points-per-dollar play, particularly on Yahoo! where I’d expect his ownership to exceed 50 percent. His second best spot is on DraftKings and we should look to build around him on FanDuel as well despite the fact he’s the third highest-priced wideout there. Don’t be surprised if the Colts even pull this one off and shock the Chiefs. If they do, Hilton will be a big reason why and may very well lead all receivers in fantasy points this weekend.
Michael Thomas, Saints ($7,900, $8,400, $33) – Looking first on DK, Thomas should fall in as the second most popular wideout behind Hilton based upon pricing alone. Most who break this game down may prefer to target the running game (Kamara/Ingram) and could be afraid of the Saints pass offense taking their foot off the gas pedal if they have a big lead. That is certainly possible, but your prospects for making money would be hard-pressed if you were to avoid Thomas altogether. Thomas had an absolute monster of a regular season, and most importantly, was extremely efficient in terms of catch rate (85 percent was the league’s best mark). We’ve talked endlessly of how depleted this Eagles’ secondary is and it would be hard to believe that perimeter corners Rasul Douglas and Avonte Maddox would have any chance of contesting Brees’ passes to Thomas. Thomas should eat in this one, and even find his way into the end zone at least once. But if I’m taking a stand between him and Hilton this week, my lean is to T.Y.
Tyreek Hill, Chiefs ($7,400, $8,400, $30) – Among wideouts on this slate, Hill leads the bunch in DK points per game (22.0) and should *literally* have his hands full with passes from Mahomes in what is expected to be a fun, competitive and close game. Pierre Desir (#17 CB per PFF) has had a solid season and even did a great job keeping DeAndre Hopkins quiet last week, but it’s a different matchup for him this week against the league’s speediest receiver. It’s quite possible that Sammy Watkins returns to the lineup – which would help Hill and Travis Kelce immensely. Hill has proven himself to be cash game viable this season, has topped 100 receiving yards six times and was among the league leaders with 13 touchdowns (12 receiving). He is a slate breaker if there ever was one and fading him altogether likely won’t prove very fruitful.
DK CASH: Keenan Allen, Chargers ($6,400), Julian Edelman, Patriots ($6,300) – Sure, one can pivot off the slate-breaking higher percentage studs and lean this way with one or both of the league’s best slot receivers in GPPs, but both Allen and Edelman are better suited for cash. Particularly on DraftKings where they can still hit value without finding their way into the end zone. Edelman will see tough coverage from Desmond King II which may open opportunities for higher-than-normal target share for others (J.White, Hogan, Dorsett, Patterson – though Hogan’s matchup with Casey Hayward is as tough as it gets). Note that King had PFF’s highest coverage grade among cornerbacks this season. Meanwhile, Belichick will likely employ shadow coverage on the three Chargers’ wideouts with J.C. Jackson on Allen. Either of them can pop off in any given game, but the prospects of that 30-plus FP total is much more likely with Hilton, Thomas and Hill.
Robert Woods, Rams ($5,900, $7,700, $20) – Big Bob Woods has been a staple of consistency for the Rams all season, dipping below 12 DKP only twice – in Week 1 and Week 17. The Cowboys ranked 16th against the pass in the regular season, with much of the credit due to the duo of slot corner Anthony Brown and top-10 perimeter corner Byron Jones. Woods should mix and match against both, but play primarily out of the slot with Cooks and Reynolds running most of the routes on the outside. Woods is very fairly-priced on DK and Y! and is a solid cash game play this week. Not someone I’m breaking my back to fit into lineups, but a player wideout I can trust for a solid floor. I’ll likely have less ownership than the field if he’s greater than 25 percent owned, but I imagine most will with Reynolds being rather popular this weekend for the price.
Alshon Jeffery, Eagles ($5,800, $7,400, $21) – The fact of the matter is that Nick Foles has been more comfortable throwing deep than Carson Wentz this season and that Jeffery is more of a fantasy asset with Foles under center. Four of Jeffery’s five games with 80-plus receiving yards have come with Foles this season and he’s seen at least five targets in each of their last four games together. Alshon is known for his aggressive nature on the field and that should make for a fun battle with second-year corner Marshon Lattimore who has failed to capture the magic of his rookie season, allowing nearly 2 YR/C (yards per route covered). Lattimore is the best of CB trio with P.J. Williams and Eli Apple and Foles’ targets will be spread out between his other targets (Tate, Agholor, Ertz, Goedert, Sproles) so you’re hoping for Foles and Alshon to connect for at least one TD and catch at least five balls for him to exceed value.
CHEAP & GUT PLAYS
CHALK: Josh Reynolds, Rams ($4,500, $5,600, $10) – His Y! price at minimum salary makes it too easy to pull the trigger on him as WR3. A similar situation on both DK and FD, and for that he will be popular there as well. Reynolds will line up more often with Chidobe Awuzie – the weakest link of that Cowboys’ secondary, though it’s worth noting he has stepped his game up over the past month. Reynolds has stepped in for Kupp without much drop-off and has seen at least seven targets in three of his last four including 12 against the Eagles in Week 15. Reynolds has 516 air yards since Kupp went down (Cooks – 513, Woods – 553) and has more targets than Cooks (43 to 41) over that span. It makes sense to take advantage of this discount to help fit some of the studs in.
GPP STUD: Ted Ginn, Saints ($4,400, $45, $14) – Ginn made his way back to the Saints lineups after spending most of the season (since Week 4) out on IR. He impressed in Week 17 with Bridgewater catching five-of-eight targets for 74 yards and will be a welcomed addition back to this Saints’ lineup that has been forced to employ a bevy of rookie wideouts (Carr, Smith, Kirkwood). Though Kamara, Thomas and Ingram are the primary Saints’ targets in the pass game, Ginn offers high upside at a low price given his break-neck speed and rapport with Brees. Ginn will gain more popularity as we get closer to the weekend but he is easily one of the best cheap GPP options on this divisional round slate.
GAME STACK: Golden Tate, Eagles ($4,600, $5,900) – Less likely to use Tate on Yahoo where he’s priced too close to other studs, but I can foresee building some lineups with him on DK and FD, either at the expense of Alshon or in a game stack. Tate was a sneaky gut play in our article here last week, coming through with 15.6 DKP and the game-winning touchdown. Just five TDs all season and only his first fantasy-worthy game as an Eagle, Tate doesn’t offer much GPP upside but if we expect the Eagles to keep it competitive and believe Tate gets another eight targets, he can easily exceed value this weekend.
TWO-TOUCHDOWN UPSIDE: Mike Williams, Chargers (best on Y! – $15)
AIR YARDS DARLING: Michael Gallup, Cowboys (best on FD – $5,700)
SNEAKY IF HEALTHY: Sammy Watkins, Chiefs (best on DK – $4,500)