FantasyDraft: Divisional Round – Diversity With A Three Slate Approach

The Divisional Round of the playoffs is particularly tricky this year from a DFS perspective. Even if there were no salary restraints, it’s impossible to build a lineup that doesn’t include several talented players who have the potential for huge days. If one or two of these players go off and you don’t have them, your lineup is going to have a tough time of reaching the FantasyDraft Pay Out Zone.

For those like myself that don’t mass entry into tournaments to cover all of the possible basses, this makes lineup construction difficult. I enjoy the challenge of building my best couple of lineups. If they win, that’s fantastic, and I’m proud of my win. If they fall short, then I have protected my bankroll, and I move onto the next week.

At the end of the season, it may be tempting to dramatically increase play because we are running out of opportunities. I’m not going to do that because I’m not going to alter my style.  What I am going to do is treat the Divisional Round as three different slates.

The Hooters Main Event is the largest tournament of FantasyDraft with 3,000 entries, and it runs all four games. There is also a small three-game tournament for 80 entries that runs from the second game on Saturday through Sunday. Sunday Only is a two-game slate with 400 entries, The payouts for 1st place in the smaller tournaments may not be huge money, but you have a decent chance of winning one if you construct a solid lineup with players in favorable matchups. By entering all three tournaments with slightly different lineup builds in different slates, we will gain exposure to more players in those great matchups but avoid building lineups that are in competition with each other.

Even with this approach, I will not have exposure to every player that would like to roster. I can still put together a winning lineup if a couple of the players I don’t perform better than expected, so long as the majority of the players perform well that I do play.

QBs (Salary on FantasyDraft)

There are solid arguments to be made for playing any of the QBs this weekend.  I choose to get exposure to the three QBs that produced the highest season-long averages for their fantasy production. Due to past production and matchups, these QBs provide the highest likelihood that one of them will not only be the top performer for the weekend but provide a truly remarkable performance that sets you apart from the field.

BAL QB Lamar Jackson ($14,900) has averaged a remarkable 29.44 points this season. That’s six points more than any other player this weekend.  When your player scores a receiving or rushing TD, it’s a huge deal because he just earned you six points. Jackson has effectively spotted those who rostered him a full TD edge compared to any other this week. While he is the most expensive QB on the slate, the cost does not reflect that edge. MIN RB Dalvin Cook ($15,200) has the third-highest average at 22.49 and is $400 more expensive. HOU QB Deshaun Watson ($12,600) has the second-highest average at 23.39. Watson maybe $2,300 cheaper, but Watson at the higher price has provided a historical average of 2.67X return for that $2,300. Any actual performance over 2X on FantasyDraft is fantastic, and a lineup that has and averages 1.5x is generally very competitive. Jackson, at the higher price from a season-long average perspective, is a better value. When choosing a player, however, we don’t just look at averages. We want players that can perform this week based on their matchup. Jackson faces a Titans defense that in at least the bottom half against QBs in total fantasy points allowed per game (19.4, 13th worst), passing yards (4,356, seventh-worst), passing TDs (25, 12th worst), and rushing yards (251, 12th worst). Jackson has scored from 32.78 to 36.78 in five of his last seven games, and he has done so against several defenses that range in the caliber of the Titans. Jackson has a realistic opportunity to provide a higher than 2X return with another performance north of 30 points.

KC QB Patrick Mahomes ($14,300) should easily surpass his 22.50 point average this season with a fantastic matchup against the Texans who have allowed a second-worst 23.2 fantasy points a game. Only the Arizona Cardinals allowed more fantasy production to QBs at a 25.2 average. Down the stretch,  Mahomes has not always put up the big numbers he did last season and at the start of this one. Since Week 3, his only performance over 30 points came in Week 10 when he scored 32.84 points against the Titans, who Jackson faces. The matchup this week could lead to another 30 point outing.

HOU Deshaun Watson ($12,600) is coming off a 29.38 performance against an excellent Bills defense. This game has the highest over/under at 50.5. The Chiefs are huge favorites with a 9.5 edge. The point spread appears to provide a considerable advantage to Mahomes, but it also suggests a game script where Watson will need to air it out to keep up.  We saw the Vikings upset the Saints last week with a similar line. This game has the highest potential to turn into a back and forth shoot out, and if that happens, Watson has the potential to provide a high return at his price. The savings with Watson also allows for another position in your lineup.

“The matchup with the Chiefs is one we’ve seen before back in Week 6 when he completed 30-of-42 passes for 280 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 42 yards and two touchdowns,” wrote Tagilere in his weekly column The Primer for Fantasy Pros. “The passing totals don’t look great on paper, but Watson’s receivers really let him down in that game, as they dropped four passes (Fuller 3, Hopkins 1). Not just dropped passes, but all of them were for would-be touchdowns, with three of them being 28-plus yards. Watson should’ve had a monster game against the Chiefs. Despite those mishaps, Watson scored 27.4 points and finished as the QB3 that week. It was the biggest fantasy performance against the Chiefs all season. Despite the perception, the Chiefs defense has been a strength this season, allowing the 12th-fewest points to fantasy quarterbacks. The 6.62 yards per attempt they’ve allowed ranks fourth-best behind only the 49ers, Patriots, and Bills, while the 3.61 percent touchdown-rate ranks as the ninth-best mark, and the 60.4 percent completion-rate ranks as the fourth-best. There were just two quarterbacks who hit the 300-yard mark against them this year, with one of them being Philip Rivers when he threw the ball 52 times. Watson hasn’t thrown the ball more than 34 times in 13-of-16 games this year, though one of the games he did came against the Chiefs. They aren’t a plus-matchup for quarterbacks, though it did appear the Texans offense had their number in Week 6. It doesn’t hurt Watson’s projection to know the Chiefs lost starting safety Juan Thornhill to injured reserve, though. It also doesn’t hurt that eight running backs have rushed for at least 18 yards. There are better cash game options on this slate, but if Fuller comes back and the Texans can recreate the magic they had in Week 6, he can help you win tournaments.”

WRs/Flex (Salary on FantasyDraft)

KC WR Tyreek Hill ($14,900) is always a threat to surpass 30 points, although that has only happened once this season (36.0, Week 10 vs. Titans). On three other occasions, he racked up 23.8O points or higher. The potential is there for Hill to explode this week, especially if he lines up frequently in the slot as opposed to RWR. In the slot, Hill will face HOU CB Vernon Hargreaves III, who has allowed a greater than 67% catch rate and two fantasy points per target. Hargreaves landed with the Texans after being cut by the Buccaneers and their lowly pass defense. On the right side, the matchup is more difficult. There he will face HOU CB Bradley Roby, who has allowed a little over a 50% catch rate and around 1.5 points per target. That’s still a matchup Hill can exploit with his speed.

GB WR Davante Adams ($14,700) has averaged over 11 targets a game over the last five. It will not be surprising if that number rises to 15 or more in a favorable matchup against the Seahawks.

“If you played Adams over the last two months in DFS, you were liking making a profit,” wrote Tagliere. “Over his last seven games, he’s tallied a massive 80 targets (11.4 per game), 51 receptions, 578 yards, and five touchdowns. During that span, he has just one game with fewer than 19.3 DraftKings points. On a four-game slate, it’s going to be nearly impossible to avoid him. The matchup with the Seahawks isn’t one that’s been a must-avoid, either. There have been eight receivers who’ve seen double-digit targets against them, and while each of them has scored at least 14.0 PPR points, six of them scored at least 22.2 DraftKings points. Adams moves all over the formation, but if the Seahawks keep their alignment the same as they have all season, he’ll see more of Tre Flowers than anyone, which is a big positive for Adams. Of the 127 cornerbacks that PFF has graded this year, Flowers ranks 125th. Against a similar defense last year, Adams tagged the Seahawks secondary for 10/166/0 on 12 targets.”

SF WR Deebo Samuel ($10,700) is a great piece to have in the early Saturday game and is a price that looks cheap based on his production down the stretch. Since WR Emmanuel Samuels ($10,600) joined the team, Samuel has been a top 10 WR in the league. Samuel has one of the best CB matchups on the slate against Xavier Rhodes, who has allowed a greater than 75% catch rate and two fantasy points per target.

“From Week 9 through Week 17, Samuel was the No. 9 fantasy wide receiver,” wrote Tagliere. “Crazy, right? He tallied 39 receptions for 615 yards and two touchdowns through the air while racking up 122 yards and two touchdowns on the ground in those nine games. Like Sanders, though, his targets have been inconsistent in that time, ranging from just two in Week 12 to 11 of them in Week 10. He hasn’t seen more than six targets in five of his last six games, which is a big problem for reliability. But bringing up what I did in the Sanders paragraph above, the Vikings allowed 25 different wide receivers to post 11.7 or more PPR points during the regular season (most in NFL), which amounts to just under two per game. There’s room for both Samuel and Sanders to produce in this matchup.

HOU WR Will Fuller V ($10,300) has the genuine potential of being the highest-scoring WR on the slate. That is, if he plays (groin) and converts on the same opportunities that slipped through his fingers in Week when he dropped not one, not two, but three possible TDs. The matchup isn’t fantastic against KC CB Bashaud Breeland, who has allowed a catch rate of just over 40%. However, Breeland has allowed big plays, which is evident by the over 1.7 fantasy points per target he has allowed. If healthy, Fuller can beat Breeland once, twice, or even three times. Fuller already has one three TD performance this year in Week 5 against the Falcons when he scored 56.70 fantasy points. Remarkably, it was his only game this season with a TD. There is a risk with Fuller, but the upside is tremendous in a tournament.

BAL WR Marquise Brown ($9,100) stacked with QB Lamar Jackson is the best QB/WR value stack, according to 4for4. They project the duo will combine for 38.80 points for a 1.60X return. Brown moves around, so it’s hard to anticipate a CB matchup. The Titans unit as a whole all allows over a 50% catch rate and between 1.60 to 1.80 fantasy points per target. The issue is whether or not Brown will see enough targets to exploit that opportunity. He hasn’t seen more than five targets in any of the last four games. That could be because Brown has been dealing with foot and ankle issues. With an extra week, he may have healed up a bit and be ready for another big game.

KC WR Sammy Watkins ($8,400) is the Chiefs version of Texans WR Will Fuller. He caught nine passes for 198 yards and three TDs to score 49.80 points in Week 1 and hasn’t scored a TD since. We are not anticipating a repeat of Week 1, but Watkins can exploit this Texans defense to make it back to the end zone. When Tyreek Hill is not in the slot, Watkins is. That means Watkins could be the one who burns Hargreaves for a long TD.

Alternative WRs/Flex (Salary on FantasyDraft)

I do not yet have exposure to these players.

HOU WR DeAndre Hopkins ($14,900) may get a boost with the return of Fuller drawing coverage. Hopkins should see numerous targets and is always a threat for a big game. I choose to have my exposure to Texans passing attack with Fuller, who is $4,600 cheaper and has shown the ability to outperform Hopkins on occasion.

MIN WR Stefon Diggs ($10,500) was clearly frustrated last week when he went the majority of the game without seeing a target. That squeaky wheel may get the grease this week as teammate WR Adam Thielen (ankle, questionable at writing) injured himself in practice on Wednesday. Diggs has the best matchup of the Vikings WRs against CB Ahkello Witherspoon, who has allowed a near 50% catch rate and close to 1.7 fantasy points per target.

BAL WR Willie Snead IV ($7,400) has actually seen more snaps than any other Ravens WR but does not have the targets to show for it. The most he has seen is five in a game this season. Snead is a cheap flex option to stack with Lamar Jackson. Snead has a favorable matchup against HOU CB Logan Ryan, who has allowed close to a 60% catch rate and about 1.7 fantasy points per target. The floor is low for Sneed, and even with a TD, it isn’t that high. The price savings do allow for some higher-priced options, and you may get lucky with a 2X return if Sneed can beat Ryan for a TD.

SEA WRs D.K. Metcalf ($12,700) and  SEA WR Tyler Lockett ($12,300) both have great CB matchups against the Packers. Metcalf should most by covered by GB CB Kevin King, who has allowed nearly a 60% catch rate and two fantasy points per target. Lockett will mostly be covered by CB Tramon Williams, who has allowed over a 50% catch rate and over 1.8 fantasy points per target. Last week, we advocated for Metcalf because he clearly had the better CB matchup. That paid off, as Metcalf led all players with 32 fantasy points. The matchup differential is not as clear cut this week, so it’s hard to project whether it will be Metcalf or Lockett, who will lead Seattle in receiving. Having no exposure to either one is concerning. I hope one of them ends up in our DFS Fantasy Foreplay podcast. If you pick the right one between Metcalf or Lockett, it’s viable they outperform Tyreek Hill or Davante Adams and at a discount.

Note: This article frequently quotes Mike Woellert at 4for4. We didn’t this week due to the timing of publication. I consulted Woellert in choosing these WRs.

TEs/Flex (Salary on FantasyDraft) will play a more significant role than usual in lineup construction this week. These slates offer three of the top performers at the position, and two great value plays based on matchups. The lineups I’m building are featuring at least two TEs, and I’m strongly considering a three TE lineup.

KC TE Travis Kelce ($13,300) has scored from 19 to 28.20 fantasy points in five of his last seven games. The one concern here is except for Week 17 (LAC, 5.40 points), the only other game this season Kelce has scored below double digits was against the Texans in Week 6 when he scored 9.80 points. That was likely an anomaly and unlikely to repeat. The Texans were in the bottom third against TEs with an average of 13.1 fantasy points a game allowed.

“They were a relatively average defense against the position, allowing a 65.5 percent completion-rate (25th-highest, the only thing they were above average in), 7.73 yards per target (11th-highest), and a touchdown every 19.3 targets (17th),” wrote Tagliere. “They did hold Kelce to four catches for 58 yards in the first meeting, though. He saw just six targets in that game, though, which was his second-lowest total of the year, as there were just three times all year he saw fewer than eight targets.”

BAL TE Mark Andrews  ($11,300) doesn’t see the target share that Travis Kelce (8.0 per game) or SF TE George Kittle (7.1) does, but he makes the most of his opportunities. Andrews saw 6.2 targets per game and had only 852 receiving yards. Kelce, who led the league with 1,229 yards. Kittle had the fourth-most with 1.053 yards. Andrews, however, had 10 TDs, which is twice as many as either Kelce or Kittle, who both had five TDs. Andrews faces a Titans defense that has allowed nine TDs to TEs, tied for third-worst.

SEA TE Jacob Hollister ($8,300) frequently appears the FantasyPros optimizer, which projects him for 14.3 points. Hollister sees a fair amount of targets and faces a Packers defense that has allowed 12.7 fantasy points a game which is right in the middle of the pack.

“They’ve allowed a 70 percent catch-rate, 7.86 yards per target, and a touchdown every 18.3 targets to the tight end position, which are all above the league average,” wrote Tagliere.  “He’s in play for tournaments as someone who’s shown the ability to catch multiple touchdowns in a game.”

GB TE Jimmy Graham ($6,800) hasn’t lit the world on fire this season. His last TD came against the Raiders in Week 7. He scored 16.5 fantasy points against Oakland and 18.10 points against the Eagles in Week 4. Those are his only two games with a double-digit score. In only five games as he had 49 receiving yards or more, but he has tallied precisely 49 yards in two of the last three games. Graham is on the radar as a value flex play due to his matchup against the Seahawks that have a second-worst 15.7 fantasy points a game to TEs. Graham has had at least one reception since Week 4, so he appears to at least have a floor of some points while the same can not be said for other flex options in his range. Based on the matchup and recent performances, it’s reasonable to expect that Graham should have three to four catches for about 50 yards. That would provide a solid 1.5X return. If he finds the endzone, then a 2X-3X return is within range.

Alternative TE (Salary on FD)

SF TE George Kittle ($12,800) needs to be on your radar in a short slate because he could easily see 10-plus targets. The matchup is tough against the Vikings who have allowed an eighth-best 10.6 fantasy points a game to TEs. We’ve decided to fade Kittle because we believe Kelce and Andrews are mutch better plays based on price and matchups.

RBs (Salary on FantasyDraft)

TEN RB Derrick Henry ($15,600) carried the ball 32 times for 182 yards and TD plus he had one reception for 22 yards to rack up 30.40 fantasy points. I wrote last week that a generous projection would be 25-30 carries for 125 yards with one TD plus two receptions for another 20 yards for 25.5 points. I didn’t play him because the TD projection was very iffy against the Patriots who had only allowed one rushing TD on the season, therefor the 25.5 appeared to be a ceiling, and he was unlikely to reach a 2X performance. I was wrong. Henry got the TD and far exceeded the carries and yards. The Titans are assuredly going to feed Henry again. This week he faces a Ravens defense that overall has been good against the run, but has allowed 11 rushing TDs. Playing Henry still has some risk on FantasyDraft, which is a full PPR site because of this lack of work as a pass-catcher. The upside is tremendous. Henry will likely reach over 100 yards rushing with the workload he should receive and has an opportunity for a multi-TD performance.

GB RB Aaron Jones ($14,000) is projected by the FantasyPros consensus ranking of 20 experts to be the top PPR RB for the week. He is the only player in all three lineups. Jones should have a rock-solid day if he can surpass 20 touches, which appear to be a watershed barrier for RBs against the Seahawks.

“The Packers have decided to ride Jones down the stretch, as he’s racked up 546 total yards and five touchdowns over the last four games. Even more importantly, he received at least 22 touches in three of them. Against the Seahawks, that’s massive, as they’ve faced just eight running backs who’ve tallied 20-plus touches. Those running backs averaged 136.9 total yards and 1.3 touchdowns per game. The only running back who didn’t total at least 102 total yards was Ronald Jones.”

KC RB Damien Williams ($11,300) appears to be the lead back in Kansas City, finally. Over the last two games, Williams has touched the ball 38 times, and that has 42.60 fantasy points. The Texans defense is one that Williams can continue his scoring frenzy. Houston allowed a third-worst 28.3 fantasy points a game to RBs. With the Chiefs expected to win by over nine points, the game script appears to be available for Williams to receive touches throughout the game.

Alternative RBs/Flex (Salary on FD)

MIN Dalvin Cook ($15,200) is either projected slightly below or above Aaron Jones on multiple sites. Jones is priced at $1,200 cheaper. One of the most significant risks that I’m currently taking is that I have no exposure to Cook, who will likely see a hefty workload against the 49ers. San Fransico is a brutal matchup as they allowed the third-lowest production from RBs at 17.5 fantasy points a game. They were particularly tough on pass-catching RBs by allowing near a league-low of just 398 receiving yards and were the only team not to allow an RB to score on a reception.

“The 49ers also allowed just 1.17 PPR points per target this year to running backs,” wrote Tagliere. “Which was the best mark in the league, as 4.55 yards per target and no touchdowns will do that.

SEA RBs Marshawn Lynch ($10,200) is a viable flex option because he is receiving the goal-line touches for Seattle. The discount between him and Williams is not substantial enough to consider playing Lynch instead of Williams.

Team Defense (Salary on FantayDraft) was not something that we worried about too much, Like last week, there is a minimal spread in projections from top to bottom. That played out in actual performance with the Titans ($5,300) leading the scoring at 14 points while the Patriots ($6,300) scored the fewest points with four points. The Vikings ($4,600) were the cheapest defense, and they landed in the middle of the pack with eight points.

The three defenses that we landed on was the Green Bay Packers ($5,600), Seattle Seahawks ($5,000) and the Houston Texans ($4,000)

Hooters Main Event Lineup

FantasyDraft Main Event Lineup for Divisional Round

Photo Credit: FantasyDraft

Putting it all Together

These three lineups allowed us to have exposure to most of the players in great matchups without mass entering anyone tournament and having the lineups in competition with each other in the same tournament.

 

 

 

 

Three-Game Lineup

FantasyDraft 3-Game Slate Lineup for Divisional Round

Photo Credit: FantasyDraft

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Only Lineup

FantasyDraft Sunday Only Lineup for Divisional Round

Photo Credit: FantasyDraft

Mix It Up

To protect yourself from a duplicate lineup, it’s wise not precisely to play any lineup you find on-line. This top lineup will be entered into the FantasyDraft Hooters $75 K ($10k to 1st) Main Event and likely at least one other contest. If you are playing on FantasyDraft, please switch out at least one player.

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Follow Dan on Twitter @sandiegosports.

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