Super Wildcard Weekend didn’t let us down and with some of the poorer teams being weeded out, Divisional Weekend should be just as good. With only four games and eight teams to choose from it’s a little harder for me to provide as many value plays, so instead this week I’ll give a team by team positional breakdown and highlight my likes and dislikes. But before we get into that, let’s check back in on last week’s picks.
The high’s were very high and lows were flat out zeroes as many a slate was decided on small choices. Ben Roethlisberger managed more than just a few tears and put up the highest QB score of the weekend for us. Drew Brees was denied a goal-line QB sneak that would have made him very profitable, but he still achieved over 3x points/cost ratio, which is enough to make it a decent play.
J.K Dobbins had a quieter day than we’d hoped, only putting up 10.7 points, which included a short-yardage touchdown. Ronald Jones cost me quite a sizable chunk of dollars, failing to play a second despite not being declared out before the game started. That one hurt me hard and I know many others played him as well. Sadly there’s not much we can do about these situations. I was up till 1am U.K time waiting on the team news and it seemed like everything was stacking up for him to have a good game. C’est la vie. Thankfully we identified Cam Akers as a must-play and he went on to be the highest scoring RB of the weekend. Despite some concerns about his ankle. J.D McKissic wound up being an average play, but the moment Alex Smith was ruled out I mentioned on Twitter I would no longer be playing McKissic and hopefully, you took note too.
Wide receiver worked out well for us, with JuJu Smith-Schuster leading the weekend in scoring and coming in at lower ownership than his teammates. Michael Thomas and Marquise Brown also had nice days and if it wasn’t for John Brown putting up zero receptions on four targets, we’d have a clean sweep. At tight end, both Jared Cook and Trey Burton did reasonably, but neither reached double digits.
Picks so far this season:
Great plays: 115 (46%)
Good plays: 81 (32%)
Bad plays: 58 (22%)
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Divisional Weekend Breakdowns
L.A Rams @ Green Bay Packers (Saturday 21:35 UK time)
Packers -6.5 favourites
45.5 over/under (lowest of the week)
On Green Bay’s side, it’s relatively straightforward with likely MVP Aaron Rodgers coming as the fourth-highest priced QB of the week at $6900. Rodgers finds himself facing the toughest defence in the league for quarterbacks to match up against. The Rams allow the fewest yards per game (210.29), the least touchdowns per game (1.12) and the fewest fantasy points per game (14.88). Rodgers has had just one game below 18 DK points all year, so it’s fair to assume his floor may be a bit higher but I’m not feeling confident that Rodgers is in play this week. The Rams side is a little murkier, but also not particularly anymore appealing. John Wolford was taken out of the game against the Seahawks by Jamal Adams, meaning the injured Jared Goff was reinserted to the starting lineup. Goff looked reasonable at times but was limited as he went 9-19 for 155 yards. The Packers defence isn’t as sack happy as last year but they still find a way to limit quarterbacks, allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game. I can understand an argument to play the more mobile John Wolford at $4900 if he is given the nod, but with Jared Goff ($5200), still dealing with a thumb injury and recovering from surgery, it’s hard to imagine him putting up a multiple touchdown day when Green Bay hasn’t allowed any team to do so since week 12. Not to mention local weather reports estimate a possible temperature of -7c! As of Thursday, it appears Goff will be the starter.
Verdict: On short slates like this playing an unfavourable matchup might win you a GPP, but I’m probably staying away from Rodgers. Goff and Wolford represent some of the cheapest plays at the position, but I’d rather save salary elsewhere this weekend than count on either of these two to deliver me a win.
The Packers are a defence I’ve targeted all season for opposing running backs and that won’t stop this weekend. Cam Akers ($5700), is potentially the best play on the Rams side of the ball and comes in as the fifth most expensive back on the slate. The Packers run defence ranks 27th in the league and is also susceptible to pass-catching backs like Akers. They allow the 3rd most yardage through the air to backs (47.75), and the fifth most yards per attempt (8.49). It’s hard to see the Rams game plan not heavily involving Akers. I’m not concerned about any other backs eating into his workload after Akers played 72% of the snaps and had 28/37 touches. Fresh off a bye the Green Bay RB room will no doubt continue to be Aaron Jones with Jamaal Williams and a sprinkling of A.J Dillon, who looks to have come on late in the season. The Rams defence ranks 3rd overall against the rush and will no doubt bring Aaron Donald led pressure against a weakened offensive line that is missing their star LT.
Verdict: Akers will be a popular pick and rightly so. I will have a decent mix of Akers in my lineups. Jones is the second-highest priced RB on the slate at $6800, Williams $4400 and Dillon $4000. I think there are better routes to value than any of these plays this weekend. If I had to play one, I’d rather pay for Jones than pay down for the other backs.
Green Bay takes on the best defence in the league against receivers. Jalen Ramsey hasn’t given up more than 57 yards to any receiver this year and has only allowed one touchdown. They lead the league in fewest completions allowed (12), lowest yardage (131.94) and touchdowns allowed (0.53). D.K Metcalf found a way to fantasy relevance last weekend, largely in part to blown coverage. Rams receivers can be tricky to separate as Kupp and Woods have such similar numbers. Woods has 129-90-136 and 6TD’s. Kupp has 124-92-974 and 3TD’s. Woods does have a little more rushing equity, with 24 attempts for 155 yards and two touchdowns, but it’s hardly worth relying on. The Packers are a tough defence against the pass, ranking 5th overall and allowing just 144.75 yards per game to receivers.
Verdict: Adams ($8600), has had an incredible season and it will take boldness to fade him. I won’t play Adams in cash games, but will for tournaments. I prefer Lazard ($3900), over MVS ($3800), if you’re looking for punt plays but I’ll have an eye on better matchups elsewhere. with questions at quarterback and potentially bad weather, I’m not planning on playing much of Woods ($5900). I think Kupp ($5300), has a safer floor in this matchup, due to his tendency to man the slot. If Goff is struggling to pass, it makes sense to keep things near the line of scrimmage. I’m happy to look at Josh Reynolds ($3200), as a low priced punt. He’s had a couple of big games against tough defences this year and looks as good a punt as any. Van Jefferson is an easy fade after zero targets last week.
Both teams rank well against the position with the Packers 4th overall and the Rams 8th. The stats are very similar for both teams with the Rams giving up more in touchdown equity (0.41 per game Vs. 0.31 on Green Bay’s side). The Rams haven’t surrendered a big game to the position since Week 13 against Dan Arnold (3-2-61+2TD’s), whilst the Packers allowed reasonable games in Week 16 (Jonnu Smith 12 DK pts), Week 14 (Hockenson, 16.3) and Week 13 (Goedert, 11.6).
Verdict: Tonyan ($4200) has seen a steady and consistent target share throughout the season. As the third-highest priced TE he probably won’t catch much ownership and is arguably a better play than either MVS or Lazard. I won’t be surprised if we see a 10-15pt game from him. The Rams TE’s represent way more of a punt, with both Higbee ($3000), and Everett ($2700) having just three double-digit performances each all season. They have an equal amount of targets (63) on the season and if I was going to punt on one it would be Everett.
Baltimore Ravens @ Buffalo Bills (Sunday 01:15am UK time)
Bills -2.5 favourites
Two of the most in-form quarterbacks face off in one of the most eagerly awaited divisional games. How the two quarterbacks deal with pressure will be a key issue. When the Ravens beat the Bills in Buffalo during the 2019 season they blitzed Allen constantly and walked away with five sacks. This season, however, Allen boasts a QB rating of 111.6 against the blitz and has rarely been sacked in these situations. Lamar Jackson thrives in a clean pocket and whilst the Bills have an average sack rate of 6.2%, they failed to sack the much less mobile Phillip Rivers last weekend and let him put up 301 yards through the air. Since week 13 the Bills rank 25th in explosive run rates allowed, and the Ravens rank 2nd in explosive run rate. Lamar Jackson is averaging 94.3 rushing yards per game in that spell. The Bills also allow the 8th most yards per attempt to quarterbacks. Two of Josh Allen’s biggest points totals on DraftKings have come against tough defence’s, firstly against the number one rated Rams, in Week2 (36.2pts) and the fifth rated Patriots, in Week 16 (35.3pts).
Verdict: With Lamar Jackson ($7600) the second-highest priced quarterback on the slate and Josh Allen ($7400), I expect them to be the subject of plenty of lineups where people opt to pay up. I’m a Ravens fan and I’m feeling very confident in how the team and specifically Jackson is playing. I like him a lot in all formats and I’d consider playing him without a stack. Josh Allen doesn’t have a friendly matchup on paper, but in their stadium, in a divisional-round game, I would expect Josh Allen to be giving it every bit of effort he can muster. Sometimes we have to overlook matchup slightly to bet on talent, and I wouldn’t be completely afraid of that here. With Zack Moss ruled out, Allen’s potential rushing upside increase to boost this play.
The Bills lost Zack Moss for the rest of the playoffs to an in-game ankle injury, leaving Devin Singletary as the main back behind him. Singletary has had a reasonable season picking up exactly 1000 all-purpose yards, so far. He doesn’t carry much touchdown equity with Moss normally preferred around the goal line and the Ravens have only allowed 12 touchdowns to running backs all year. Singletary makes up for this slightly with an average of 2.3 receptions per game, for an average of 16 yards per game. The Ravens dominated Derek Henry, holding The Big Dog to 40 yards, completely removing his ability to influence the game. I wouldn’t expect the Ravens to pack the line of scrimmage in the same way for Singletary however, opting to free up more defenders to play coverage in the passing game. The Ravens run defence ranks 7th overall, whilst the Bills rank 19th. Over the last four weeks, they have allowed good DK point scores to Jonathan Taylor (16.4), Myles Gaskin (17.7) and Melvin Gordon (24.1). In their last six games, the Ravens are rushing for 262 yards per game. For context, this is 36 yards per game more than at any point during their dominant 2019 season. Dobbins continues to out-snap and out-touch Gus Edwards, with Ingram, frequently left as inactive, or unused. Neither Dobbins nor Edwards had a great day against the Titans, so it’s easy to imagine that might bring their ownership down a bit for this weekend.
Verdict: Singletary ($4500) has as much opportunity as you could hope for and he could pick up 100 yards if the score stays close. I like Singletary for either cash or GPP’s. Gus Edwards ($4200) is very tempting potential value as well. He’s returned less than double digits for two straight weeks, but remains involved plenty and would be worth playing in tournaments. J.K Dobbins ($6000) is the clear talent of this section and has eight touchdowns in his last seven games played. Dobbins will be under consideration for both cash and GPP’s.
Whilst the Ravens possess the better running game, the Bills own the better passing game. Stefon Diggs was fantasy’s WR1 overall this season and helped elevate many others around him. John Brown has a revenge game against a team who opted not to extend him, but he arrives in it on the back of a big fat zero against the Colts. The Ravens defence is more susceptible to passes in the middle of the field and that might benefit Cole Beasley or Gabe Davis who both can line up in the slot. With the absence of Zack Moss, I would expect a heavy amount of 4WR sets, which could test the defence. The Ravens defence ranks second-best against wide receivers, with all three cornerbacks finding fitness at the right time. Marlon Humphrey had a bad day by his Pro Bowl standards, allowing A.J Brown to put up 83 yards and a touchdown on ten targets. Marcus Peters allowed just three catches for 29 yards and Jimmy Smith allowed zero catches. That’s not to say that performance is repeatable, but it should give caution to some of those receivers. As mentioned previously if the Bills lineup frequently in four-wide receiver sets, that could test the Ravens depth at secondary. Meanwhile, on the other side of this matchup, the Bills defence ranks fourth against the position with Tre’davious White deservedly earning a Pro Bowl nod. If White shadows Marquise Hollywood Brown, it could make for a difficult game for the in-form receiver, who has managed 98+ yards or a touchdown in his last seven games. Miles Boykin and Willie Snead are touchdown or bust options. Boykin has seen his most consistent usage of his career but still fails to get more than a couple of targets per game. For fans of meaningless statistical trends, his touchdown scores have gone 1-0-1-0-1-0, over his last six. Does this mean we get one this week? Meanwhile, Snead picks up near the line of scrimmage receptions with the occasional end zone look. Dez Bryant has seen his involvement never really take off and could be a candidate to be healthy scratched.
Verdict: We’re into betting on talent picks here. Both Stefon Diggs ($7300) and Marquise Brown ($5200), are worthy of consideration for both GPP and cash, but neither has a great matchup. Cole Beasley ($4900), provides the most intrigue to me out of the other Bills receivers and at times this year the Ravens have given up points to slot receivers. Anyone else is a pure punt play.
In last week’s wildcard round neither Mark Andrews nor any of the Buffalo tight ends made an impact on the game, in terms of fantasy scoring. Andrews had some nice catches in clutch situations but the game script kept the end zone looks from happening. The Bills collection of below-average tight ends is normally led by Dawson Knox who managed two receptions for five yards and a touchdown but failed to break double digits. The Bills have the worse defence against the position, ranking 30th, compared to the Ravens 12th best. In a game where Hollywood could find himself in a tough matchup, there’s a lot to like about Andrews facing the team that leads the league in tight end receptions allowed (6.24) and has the second-highest yardage allowed per game (66.41).
Verdict: Andrews ($5000) is in one of the most attractive spots of the weekend, I will have a lot of Mark Andrews in all types of lineups. Outside of Kelce, Andrews is the best play at the position. Dawson Knox ($3100), and Tyler Kroft ($2500), represent okay punt plays if you’re looking for game stacks and bring backs. Patrick Queen (Rookie LB) has been susceptible to coverage against tight ends and it’s something the Titans tried to take advantage of before the game was turned on its head.
Cleveland Browns @ Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday 20:05 U.K time)
Chiefs -10.0 favourites
57.5 over/under (highest of the week)
Baker Mayfield and the Browns stunned a lot of people in the Wildcard round and their belief should be sky-high heading into Arrowhead. The Chiefs might be favoured by 10 points but the last time they won a game by more than a touchdown was against the Jets in Week 8. In that spell, they played the Panthers, Raiders, Buccs, Broncos, Dolphins, Saints and Falcons. So there is optimism that this game could remain in a positive game script if the Browns don’t let the occasion get too big for themselves. Neither defence is particularly imposing for the opponent, with the Browns ranked 27th in fantasy points allowed, and the Chiefs ranked 19th. Both quarterbacks have good offensive lines and the game should be decided in other areas. It’s well known how good Andy Reid teams are coming off a bye, averaging almost 40 points per game in their last six. Mahomes leads the league in 20+ yard completions since Week 12, with 22. The Chiefs defend receivers well, which could harm some of Mayfield’s production, but they struggle against tight ends, and we know how much the Browns utilize theirs.
Verdict: Both quarterbacks are good plays on paper and I would be happy playing either, depending on your lineup construction. Mahomes ($8000), is the highest-priced on the slate and might be a good contrarian play with people opting to pay down. Mayfield ($5300), is one of the cheapest quarterbacks available and will no doubt be popular for people wanting a part of this game without paying up for Mahomes. It’s hard for me to see Mayfield out-scoring last week’s 22.8 DK points, but that would return plenty of value.
This game sees two drastically different approaches to the run game, with the Browns often veering heavily in that direction and the Chiefs often opting for a pass-first attack. Edwards-Helaire may not have lived up to the peak of his off-season hype, but he still finished ahead of Miles Sanders and other notable names. Coming off an injury that kept him out of weeks 16 and 17, I’m not desperate to play him against a tough run defence (ranked 10th overall) who give up the fifth-fewest receptions per game to backs, an area where CEH has capitalised on occasion. The Browns have a far friendlier matchup here with the Chiefs ranked 25th against the run and bottom three against pass-catching backs. Cleveland will need to keep the game close to lean on their run game, but if they can there’s a clear path to success.
Verdict: CEH ($5500), is too risky a play coming off the injury for me. Barring any reports between now and kick-off, it’ll be an easy fade. Le’Veon Bell ($5100) has had one good fantasy performance for the Chiefs (Week 16 against the Saints), and in Week 17 Darwin Thompson ($4300) was preferred to Darrell Williams ($4000). I can’t find anything to convince me that playing any of the Chiefs backs is a good choice, but I’ll be keeping an eye on the situation up till game time. Nick Chubb ($6600) is the third-highest priced back of the slate and deserves to be so. This is his lowest price since week 2 and one can only assume it’s down to game-script concerns. Since his Week 10 return from injury, he averages 20.4 DK points per game and has seen an increase in his work in the passing game. In the wildcard round, Chubb out-snapped Hunt 39-25, ran more routes (19-10), out carried (18-8) and had more targets (4-1). Hunt has managed to score points by being efficient, but it seems like the Browns are leaning more on Chubb routinely. I’m not massively confident in Kareem Hunt ($4800), this week.
The Browns should have a far better defence against receivers than they do. In the last three drafts, they’ve used a top 5 pick and two-second rounders on cornerbacks and a safety. Yet they still rank 29th against receivers, allowing the 5th most receptions per game (14.59), the 5th most yards per game (188.82) and the fourth most touchdowns per game (1.35). Tyreek Hill comes into the matchup having made his way to the fantasy WR2, with just two games below 10.5 DK points all season. The Chiefs defence has allowed the second-fewest yards per game to receivers (135.19) and leads the league in fewest receptions allowed (10.69). Despite this overall rosy outlook for the Chiefs, they allowed Mike Williams (25pts) and Calvin Ridley (20.3pts), to have big weeks in the last couple of weeks of the season. The Browns will need to be efficient in the passing game to succeed.
Verdict: Tyreek Hill ($8000) is an obvious play in all situations if you can find the money. Whilst Mecole Hardman ($3900), represents a potential value, he has only topped 50 yards three times all season, the last of which was in week eight. Hardman also fails to regularly score touchdowns having just four on the season. He’s a high ceiling play, that is fine for tournaments and if Watkins missed through injury, his value will jump dramatically. Watkins ($4800), is unappealing averaging just 8.9 DK points per game. On the Cleveland side, Landry ($5600) is the most obvious play, averaging 19.85 DK points over his last six games. Even with the tough matchup, you’d fancy him to be involved. Higgins ($4100), and Peoples-Jones ($3000), are fine pay-down candidates if you’re looking for game stacks, but with their boom or bust potential, they’re not in cash consideration.
I’d be surprised if you need me to tell you that Travis Kelce is a great player. He’s fresh off one of the best tight end seasons we’ve ever seen. The Browns rank 27th against the position and allow the third-most targets per game to the position (8.24) whilst also allowing the fourth-most touchdowns per game (0.65). In recent weeks they’ve allowed good weeks to Eric Ebron (19.2 DK points), Chris Herndon (13.4) and Mark Andrews (12.8). The Chiefs solid defence against the receiver doesn’t hold up against tight ends with them ranking 24th overall. They allow a bottom five average of 59.62 yards per game to the position and the seventh-worst touchdowns allowed average of 0.62 per game.
Verdict: If you have the salary, pay up for Kelce ($7800) and feel confident. The Browns trio of Hooper ($3800), Njoku ($2600) and Bryant ($2500) can be a little tricky to dissect. Generally speaking, when Hooper is healthy he leads the way. Bryant has had slightly more fantasy relevant weeks than Njoku and if I was looking for a tight end flyer, I’d opt for him.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints (Sunday 23:40 U.K time)
Saints -3 favourites
Tom Brady and Drew Brees in a matchup sure to feature a lot of age-related chatter. The Buccs defence started the season hot, but in recent weeks have regressed somewhat. Since week 9 they’ve allowed a completion rate of 70.3%, 2.1 touchdowns per game and have just five interceptions. Despite facing a tough Bears pass defence Brees looked good, delivering 265 yards and two touchdowns on 39 attempts, as well as coming inches away from a goal-line sneak. Brady also faced a reasonable passing defence against Washington and carved them up to the tune of 381 and two touchdowns, on 40 attempts. Two of Brady’s worst games this season have come against the Saints, where he threw a combined 448 yards for two touchdowns and five interceptions. Posting completion rates of 64& and 58%.
Verdict: It’s hard to separate either of these two from each other. Both Brady ($6300), and Brees ($5600), feel appropriately priced. With Brady’s price reflecting Tampa’s more aggressive passing game. I’m happy to play either, depending on the construction of the lineup. I wouldn’t play either without stacking them, however.
On Wednesday it was reported that Latavius Murray has a calf-strain that puts his status up in the air. If Murray can’t play, Kamara’s value increases even more than it usually is. Whilst the Buccaneers defence may rank 2nd best against the position, they allow the most receptions to running backs in the league (6.18). An area we know Kamara can take advantage of. Although they held Devin Singletary to a modest eight points last week, the Buccs allowed Brian Hill 16.6 in week 17 and we’ll be slightly more confident in Kamara. The Buccs side of the ball is a little murkier with Ronald Jones not practising as of Wednesday, after suiting up but not taking the field against Washington. Leonard Fournette is the clear front runner if Jones doesn’t play, and he’ll have a tough task ahead of him with the Saints defence ranked best in the league against the run. They also give up the second-fewest receptions to running backs (3.59).
Verdict: Kamara ($7900) is always a great play and your only hesitance should be down to roster construction. I’ll be trying to fit him in both cash and GPP’s. I’ll need to hear full practice participation reports on Jones ($5200) to even consider him, but given the matchup, I’m probably fading both him and Fournette ($4900) in favour of Cam Akers or Devin Singeltary.
Neither secondary is particularly scary on paper, with the Saints ranked 16th and the Buccs ranked 19th against the position. The highlight of the matchup will be seeing how Mike Evans fairs against Marshon Lattimore, who despite having an average season, has consistently had Evans number. In two games this season Lattimore has held Evans to 68 yards on six receptions and no touchdowns. Evans and Godwin front the Buccs receivers, with Antonio Brown, often sitting at around 60% of routes. On the Saints side of the ball, Michael Thomas returned from IR to have a productive game against a tough Bears secondary, posting a score of 5-73-1TD. We haven’t had enough games with Thomas on the field to be able to tell, but Brees spread the ball around much more than normal and through three games with Brees under centre, Thomas saw only a 17.8% target rate, which is much lower than his average of 30% in previous seasons.
Verdict: Despite tough defences, we should see a feisty matchup with enough passing game volume to sustain most top options. Michael Thomas ($6700), stands out as a particular value having not been priced up to where we’d normally see him as he returns from his injury. Evans ($6400), will be an obvious fade for those savvy to the Lattimore narrative, and because of this, he may provide GPP leverage. Chris Godwin ($6100), is in good form averaging 20 points per game over his last four and should be a fine play. Antonio Brown ($5400), is a nice sub $6k option, whose friendship with Brady is paying off. His week 17 massive performance against Atlanta (39.8pts), seems to be an outlier, but you should be able to rely on him for around 15 points. In games where Michael Thomas plays, Emmanuel Sanders ($4500), production takes a noticeable dip. He’s the fourth choice in the passing game behind Thomas, Kamara and Cook. Fine for a GPP punt play, but be conscious of his low floor. Deonte Harris ($3500), could be worth a speculative low-cost flyer to free up salary, after seeing seven receptions for 83 yards on seven targets.
Neither team defends the tight end particularly well, with the Saints ranked 20th and the Buccs ranked 23rd. Last week the Buccs allowed 12.4pts to Logan Thomas and Hayden Hurst went for 12.8 in Wk17. It would be fair to expect Jared Cook’s ceiling is around 12-15 points, without multiple touchdowns. Cook has seen a target share of 15.8% in the four games since Brees returned. Before Jimmy Graham’s garbage-time touchdown the Saints had held him and Cole Kmet to a meagre day. Gronkowski was held to zero points in the wildcard round whilst Cameron Brate was favoured.
Verdict: Cook ($4000) is a fine play against an average defence, as the fourth-highest priced tight end of the slate. Gronkowski ($3600) is a far better play than Brate ($2900), who despite last week out-scoring Gronk, he only has three games of 4+ receptions this year.