DFS: FanDuel Divisional Round, Brees and Saints WRs Provide High Likelihood of Success
Great defenses may win championships, but apparently, they are not needed to reach the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Three of the four worst pass defenses are playing this weekend. The Kansas City Chiefs (second-worst, 4,374 passing yards allowed), Philadelphia Eagles (third-worst, 4,308,), and the New Orleans (fourth-worst, 4,302) all provide a defense worthy of attacking from a DFS perspective.
The juiciest matchups appear to be the Chiefs and the Saints because they allowed 30 passing TDs each. The Eagles in comparison allowed only 22, or half a TD less per game.
A closer look at Brees reveals he is worth the price and the most likely to have a big game.
QB Drew Brees (NO, $8,700) threw 21 of his 32 passing TDs at home in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Furthermore, Brees threw 28 of his TDs in games that the Saints won. A winning formula for the Saints is Brees throwing the ball, and that is something he has already done this season against the Eagles. In Week 11, Brees threw for 363 yards and four TDs on just 30 pass attempts against Philadelphia.
Brees also has a history of performing well in the playoffs. “Since winning the Super Bowl in 2009, Brees has played in seven playoff games,” wrote Mike Tagliere in his weekly column The Primer for Fantasy Pros “In those games, he’s thrown for an average of 365.9 yards and 2.3 touchdowns per game, which includes five road games. Needless to say, he’s shown up big-time in playoff appearances.”
The Colts vs. Chiefs game is also outdoors with a forecast for the temperature to be near freezing and 33% of perception which could be snow. The Eagles vs. Saints game is a dome.
Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes ($9,000) also has to be considered because he threw in insane 50 TDs this season. Mahomes homes/road splits are the opposite of what you would expect. Mahomes threw only 19 TDs at home and 31 on the road. Chiefs rely more on the run at the goal line at home where RBs Kareem Hunt and Damien Williams combined for 11 rushing TDs.
Brees (21) threw more TDs at home than Mahomes (19) and has a better matchup. The Colts only allowed 237.8 passing yards a game and 21 TDs for the whole season.
Although we did not use RBs Todd Gurley II (LAR, $9,000), Alvin Kamara (NO, $8,400), and Damien Williams (KC, $6,100), there is a strong case to be made for each one of them. With so many outstanding RBs in a short slate, a strategy we employed in building this lineup was to not use any two RBs from the same game. What we landed on are three RBs who are in plus matchups, and we have the most likely chance of performing well.
RB Marlon Mack ($7,300) had one of the toughest matchups of Wild Card weekend against the Houston Texans. He still managed to put together a 22.4 FanDuel performance on 24 carries for 148 yards and one TD, plus he caught two of three targets for six yards. The return of Colts Center Ryan Kelly likely played a large role in Mack’s success against a staunch Houston run defense. “With Kelly in the lineup this year, the Colts averaged 4.48 yards per carry, while they averaged just 3.62 yards per carry without him,” wrote Tagliere.
Stats indicate Mack will again average over 4.0 yards per carry this week. “(The Chiefs) have allowed 14-of-16 teams to rush for at least 4.18 yards per attempt, including each of the last nine teams,” according to Tagliere.
A healthy dose of Mack is exactly the right approach to take to slow down the Chiefs high-powered offense.
RB Ezekiel Elliott ($8,700) has not had a game with less than 21 touches since Week 7, and he faces a Rams defense that has allowed at least 100-yard rusher in seven of their last nine games. The league’s leading rusher is going to see plenty of work to limit to slow the game down and play keep-away from the Rams offense.
RB Melvin Gordon (LAR, $7,400) is cheap considering he has been in the $8,000 range for most of the season. The lower price is due to knee and hamstring issues down the stretch. Nevertheless, he still saw 18 touches last week and as expected got the ball at the goal line for a TD. The weather conditions call for 2-3 inches of snow, so Gordon should see a significant workload and has no injury designation going into this weekend.
Gordon getting over 20 touches this week is likely in the game plan and a key to the Chargers in getting a win. “Against the eight teams who total at least 20 carries against them, the Patriots allowed 5.16 yards per carry and five rushing touchdowns,” wrote Tagliere. “In the eight games they didn’t face at least 20 carries, they allowed just 4.15 yards per carry and one rushing touchdown.”
WR Michael Thomas ($8,400) was targeted 147 times this season, the highest of any WR still in the playoffs. You can virtually count on Thomas will receive plenty of targets on Sunday night. Over two games in last year’s playoffs, Thomas caught 15 of 22 targets for 216 yards and two TDs. Thomas faces Eagles CB Rasul Douglas who allowed a hefty 1.87 fantasy points per target through the season. Thomas has a real opportunity to exceed 20 fantasy points in this game.
WR Ted Ginn (NO, $4,500) is at the minimum price because he missed several games down the stretch with a knee issue. Ginn, however, will likely have reasonably safe floor and, as the Saints number two receiver and the deep threat he has a ceiling that could be extremely high. In week 16 against the Steelers, Ginn caught five of eight targets for 74 yards. He then took Week 17 off to stay healthy for the playoffs. In two games of the playoffs last season, Ginn caught 12 of 17 for 187 and a TD.
Ginn has an excellent opportunity to post similar numbers against Eagles CB Avonte Maddox.
“Ginn represents value this week against Maddox, who was toasted in the Wild Card round,” wrote Mike Woellert for weekly WR. vs. CB Analysis column at 4 for 4. “Maddox had a solid season, but couldn’t keep up with Allen Robinson. When covering Robinson, Maddox allowed six catches over nine targets, 120 yards, and a score.”
While there are no guarantees, it’s reasonably possible the stack of Brees/Thomas/Ginn will combine for 15 catches with more than 200 yards and two TDs. That could result in over 40 fantasy points from Thomas and Ginn at a combined price of $12,900.
WR Golden Tate (LAC, $5.900) had been relatively quiet over the last month of the season but caught five eight targets for 46 yards and a TD against an outstanding Bears defense last week. Now he has the best CB matchup on the slate vs. CB P.J. Williams.
“Tate’s target volume should be similar to the Wild Card game,” according to Woellert. “He received eight targets, and I’m expecting that volume against Williams. He limited scores down the stretch, but Williams will give up catches and is allowing over 14 yards per reception and 2.22 fantasy points per target. Exposing the slot is where the Eagles can see some success.”
TE Gerald Everett (LAR, $4,800) was targeted 20 times and caught 14 passes in Weeks 14-16. In Week 11, he had a two TD performance against the Chiefs when scored 18.4 FanDuel points. The matchup against Dallas provides an opportunity for Everett to have another big day. “Of the passing production allowed to the Cowboys’ opponents, 25.9 percent of it went to tight ends, the fourth-highest percentage in the league,” wrote Tagliere. “They allowed an average of 5.5 receptions, 57.4 yards, and 0.44 touchdowns per game to tight ends, good enough for the eighth-most PPR points per game.
TEs Travis Kelce (KC, $7,500) and Eric Ebron (IND, $6,600) both have outstanding matchups, and you can never rule out Zach Ertz (PHI, $7,400). They each have projected ownership on FantasyPros of 20% or higher. Ebron has the best matchup in the Chiefs, the same team Everett had his best game of the season against, but his projected ownership 42.8%.
While we like the TEs at the upper end of the price range, you have to take a risk somewhere if you are playing Brees and Thomas with three high-end RBs. Everett’s projected ownership is 1.1%, and that is why he is worth the risk. Everett likely provides a reasonable floor, and with a TD he could hit 3X or more a reasonable expectation.
If QB Jared Goff (LAR, $7,800) throws for 300 yards and 20-25% goes to Everett, then he projects out at four to six catches for 60 to 75 yards. Without a TD, he projects at value, and that is an advantage with a player of his cost. With a TD, you have a massive edge on the field.
The Chargers ($4,300) defense in the last two games has eight sacks, two INTs, five fumble recoveries, and a defensive score. They are facing a QB Tom Brady led Patriot team who protect the ball well. However, the forecast calls for 2-3 inches of snow during the game. This creates the right environment for this game to be on the low side of scoring for the slate and for the Bolts opportunistic defense to force some mistakes. The Chargers defense also makes for a good stack with Gordon at RB.
Dan McLellan’s SAT-SUN Main Slate Lineup:
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